Twiggs County is running low on money, and it's not the first time. To balance the books this year, they've cut back on employees' work hours and county leaders are considering a tax increase.
Chris Hutchings, the interim county administrator for Twiggs County says, "Twiggs County is in a deficit and county commissioners are trying to work their way out. Tuesday night, they cut hours for some county employee to save money," says Hutchings.
Hutchings said commissioners are proposing a tax increase from 16.6 mills to 19.6 mills to bring in an extra $750,000. That means it will cost you about $100 more a year in taxes for a home valued at $100,000.
"It's evident that there's been mismanagement, it's evident that the taxpayers allowed this to happen," resident Connie Cornelius said at a public hearing Thursday night.
Kenneth Fowler said that the deficit started started in 2001.
"We're borrowing money every year to make out during the year the taxes that we collected have already been spent. This is not how it's supposed to be," said Fowler.
The proposed budget includes requiring employees to start paying part of their health insurance. To help alleviate the current budget woes, many county employees will have to take furlough days every week.
“We don’t have any services,” resident Ricky Entrekin said during the public hearing. “We don’t have a rec department, we have a sheriff’s department who is the dog catcher, fire department, and everything else, we have the road department. We don’t have any services provided to this county that should constitute a budget that we have.”
Fowler admits it’s tough raising taxes, but it must be done to get them out of the red and one day with reserves.
“If they’ll bear with us, it’s going to take some time,” Fowler said. “We didn’t get in this hole overnight, and we're not going to get out of it overnight.”
Twiggs County resident Walter Stephens says he's lived in the county for 73 years and that the tax increase would impact him, but if it's for the growth of the county, he is fine with it.
"If it was done for a good a cause, that shouldn't be any problem, but I think what we need to do is find out who is over budget," says Stephens.
He would like to see an improvement in the county's roads and schools, but mostly he wants a solution.
"Hopefully, this will get worked out between the citizens and the county commissioners and the rest of the government here in Twiggs County and we can come out with a good ending," said Stephens.
There is another Public Hearing Thursday 7:00 p.m.