Bibb County attorneys are looking at when they can hold a special election to fill the vacancy of a commission seat.
This comes after Gary Bechtel resigned to run for Allen Peake’s state representative seat this week.
But until then, the county will be without one commissioner and its financial chairman.
With a $12 million deficit last year and a projected $4 million deficit this year, we had a lot of questions about what this means for the county budget.
13WMAZ’s Mary Grace Shaw sat down with Commissioner Virgil Watkins who is now acting at the chairman of the finance committee.
Watkins says chairing the committee is a job he was not expecting, but he is ready for.
“In the short time or long time I have to serve, I’m excited for it,” said Watkins.
But it is a job that he says is going to have its challenges.
“The administration was very optimistic in its budgeting practices. We got into a habit of over projecting our revenues and under projecting our expenses,” said Watkins.
He says there are a lot of factors that played into the county’s reoccurring deficits, like health care costs going up.
It is an issue the county is working to tackle, but Watkins says he wants the county to look at more long-term solutions like exploring different providers.
“Versus micro steps that have serious impacts,” said Watkins.
He says cutting expenses is not enough to fix the problem.
“Property taxes or millage rate is a traditional method to raise the funds that government needs to operate,” said Watkins.
Raising taxes is an option Watkins says he is considering, but he says it is tough because it really comes down to choosing between cutting county services or increasing taxes.
We asked him how it has gotten to this point.
“We were very excited about consolidation and that first year we lost $8 million, and we thought, ‘Oh that was just a bump in the road, and we'll give it another year.’ And then we did it again,” said Watkins.
He says commissioners have serious changes to make and he plans to look at every budget line by line.
Watkins also answered several other questions relating to the budget issues. Below is a recording of the entire interview with him: