MACON, Ga. — With some businesses closed for weeks, COVID-19 could take a toll on city and county budgets.
Houston County Chairman Tommy Stalnaker and Bibb County Manager Keith Moffett each say they expect a drop in revenue for their counties, mainly from sales tax.
"Obviously, you can tell the amount of businesses down throughout the county," Stalnaker said.
"We know our tourism sector was hit very hard, and, again, those are the tourists that come in, stay at our hotels, and go out shopping," Moffett said.
They also expect to see a drop in some fines and fees.
"Fines from going to court and all that has not happened," Stalnaker said. "The fine from traffic violations are down, obviously, the court system, we'll see a drop in revenue."
Stalnaker says Houston County is already preparing.
"We have advised all department heads and officials to not request any more money that we currently have for this fiscal year," Stalnaker said.
Bibb County manager Keith Moffett says he's asking departments to mirror last year's budget and says they're going to keep next year's budget simple.
"We're not looking at a tax increase.We're not looking at a significant overall budget increase. For the most part, I call it a vanilla budget, nothing really out of the box at this time," Moffett said.
Stalnaker says Houston County commissioners have already promised not to increase property taxes, so if they have to make cuts later this calendar year, they could have to furlough employees.
"That is not something we want to do. That is something that we don't look forward to doing and that would be a very last resort," Stalnaker said. "We believe we can manage without doing it, but we have assured people that we're not going to raise taxes on them during these trying times that they're going through."
Stalnaker and Moffett say they wouldn't be surprised to see county revenue drop by 10 to even 15 percent. Either way, both counties say they'll weather this storm.
Stalnaker says he doesn't expect sales tax revenue to return to levels before the pandemic for several months or even a year.
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