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New audit shows significant improvement in Macon-Bibb County budget

Revenues were more than budgeted. Expenses were less than projected.

MACON, Ga. — Bibb County is gearing up for another budget year. A new audit says it's in  much better shape than it was three years ago. 

"We had a perfect storm," said Keith Moffett, Macon-Bibb County manager.

The county took in more revenue than expected due to sales tax being $4 million more than projected.

 They also spent less than they budgeted.

"It came in about $8.5 million under what was projected," Moffett said. "Most of that came in holding the line, vacancies, hiring freeze policy and reducing our expenditures across the board."

So what does this mean for the future?

"It means we're improving our financial condition. We're adding to our fund balance," Moffett said.

The county's fund balance is in much better condition than two years ago.

 "A couple years ago, our fund balance was so low, like $4 [million] or $5 million. For any type of special project or special concern, we were having to pay as we go," said Virgil Watkins Jr., District 8 commissioner.

In that time, the county had to increase millage rate twice. Last year, there was no change. Moffett says he doesn't anticipate it increasing this upcoming year.

This audit ultimately shows the county can do more planning.

They plan to do a comprehensive benefits analysis so they can reevaluate county jobs after eliminating 300 positions, Moffett says. This, in turn, would "bolster our ranks and bring more employees in," Watkins said.

Then, the county plans to invest in infrastructure as well as capital improvement like updating vehicles and technology. 

Commissioner Virgil Watkins says he also wants to focus on blight elimination.

 "Black back clean. Getting safe and clean. In way too many places, we're getting dirty," Watkins said.

Both county officials say the budget in combination with planning is looking up for future years.

Moffett says this audit will set the tone for the next budget. The county is set to be receiving department requests and discuss the budget this spring.

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