We are digging deeper into Bibb County’s budget to make sure you know where your tax dollars are being spent.
Commissioners spent two days in Athens at their strategic planning retreat discussing their budget and the county’s plans for the next year.
Tuesday, commissioners found out that they're heading towards a $4 million deficit in this year’s budget. This comes after audits showed a $12 million deficit last year and an $8 million deficit the year before.
Commissioners spent most of their time figuring out how they can prevent this deficit from happening again.
“We're going to cut as far as we can,” says Commissioner Gary Bechtel.
Behctel says the deficits are a trend they have to fix.
“We're still over on expenses and a lot of it is related to health care and things like that. If we make these changes, they’ll probably only affect future budget years,” says Bechtel.
But with just over $7 million in the general fund, Bechtel says they have to find solutions that would work immediately.
“We're going to have to ask some of the departments to take cuts and things like that because we've got to get to that number, so we can finished balanced without going into the general fund any longer,” says Bechtel.
Commissioner Elaine Lucas also says they have to find a solution.
“We've got to do a better job at policing our funds,” says Lucas.
Lucas says it is hard to explain people that their tax dollars are being used properly when the county continues having deficits and problems like blight still exist.
“We’ve got to do a job a better job of making sure that citizens know what’s being done, what our obligations are so that they will understand when we have to do cutbacks or whatever,” says Lucas.
She says they have mistakes to fix and she says it will take the whole community.
“Citizens have to be more vigilant in holding our feet to the fire and the mayor's feet,” says Lucas.
Commissioners decided to meet several times in February to look at these options and discuss which plan they want to take.
Mayor Robert Reichert says he thinks since consolidation they have done a good job balancing the budget. He says this projected deficit is mainly caused by health care changes that he says the whole country is facing.