Bibb County pays off debt with SPLOST funds

Bibb County pays off debt with SPLOST funds

We are continuing coverage on Bibb County's projected $4 million deficit and leaders' plans to fix it. We told you county officials were concerned about going into the red later this budget year.

The reasons include rising health care costs and a $2 million accounting error.

Tuesday, county officials said they planned to use SPLOST money to help balance the books.

But can they do that?

13WMAZ wants to make sure your tax dollars are being used correctly, so we dug deeper to see if whether or not it is legal to use SPLOST funds to balance the regular budget.

Bibb County's Co-Interim County Manager, Julie Moore, described their plan to pay off part of the projected $4 million debt in the 2018 general fund.

She says they want to use $2.8 million from 2012 and 2018 SPLOST funds. Both SPLOSTS have funds set aside specifically for paying off debt.

Usually SPLOST funds can be only for capital projects and not for day-to-day expenses.

Commissioner Gary Bechtel, Chairman of the Operations and Finance Committee, pointed us to Georgia code, which sets the rules for local penny sales tax.

“If it’s previously incurred, it can be paid off because in the ballot question, it said retirement of previously incurred debt,” says Bechtel.

He says the list approved by voters included using 2018 SPLOST funds on old debt. That means any money that was owed before the SPLOST was approved in November of 2016.

Bechtel says this year's budget includes paying off $3.6 million of debt, and he says most of that happened before November of 2016. He says they can use SPLOST funds to pay off that older amount.

That frees up money in the budget to prop up other items that are projected to come up short.

Moving those $2.8 million still needs approval from the full commission. That vote may come at their next meeting.

© 2017 WMAZ-TV


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