Chatham County Budget Deadline Approaches

The Chatham County Commission had three budget proposals all laid out, but now all of that is changing. The tax digest came back with less money than expected and commissioners have to find some more funding from somewhere. This doesn't mean a definite tax increase now, but that is an issue commissioners will have to address as they look to find about $1 million to balance their budget.

"This tax digest was not good news for Chatham County," said District 7 Commissioner Dean Kicklighter.

The news of having to find funds travelled fast, but commissioners say the proposed budgets were not set in stone.

"The budgets that were proposed were merely a rough road map," said District 3 Commissioner John McMasters.

Now commissioners either have to make tough cuts or take the advice given by staff, not to give a rollback and raise the millage by a little bit. This means a person who owns a $100,000 home would pay $3.60 more a year. If you live in the special service district that same person would add an extra $2.50.

"The public can rest assured we can solve this without a tax increase," said Kicklighter.

One option is to reduce the amount of funding proposed for each department.

"Look at departments and their expenditures and obligations and make adjustments there," explained Harris O'Dell of District 5.

While some say a millage rate increase may have to happen regardless of the adjustments, a majority says no way. One thing the commissioners all agree on is not balancing the budget on the backs of the employees this year.

"Hopefully we can do more for employees this year since they worked with us last year," said McMasters.

The county commission will be taking up this issue on Friday. They have to make some tough decisions since their budget year ends next week.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro,