Lowndes County adopts 2023 budget

·3 min read

Jul. 1—VALDOSTA — Lowndes County commissioners adopted the Fiscal Year 2023 budget this past week, which goes into effect July 1.

The FY2023 budget is $136,569,685, which is an approximate $9 million increase from the FY2022 budget of $127,539,859.

General Funds account for about $3.6 million of the increase, going from $61,902,995 from FY2022 to $65,563,745 for FY2023 with an increase of 5.91%. It details mostly law enforcement and government entities such as intergovernmental grants, jail operations and drug abuse treatment but it also includes enterprise funds like water and sewage and internal service funds such as equipment maintenance and health insurance.

Revenues have gone up 6.02% and $3.6 million, from $60,817,995 in FY2022 to $64,478,745 in FY2023. These include taxes, licenses and permits, intergovernmental funds, service charges, fines and forfeitures and miscellaneous funds. License and permits did not have a noted amount in FY2022 and is $10,000 for FY2023, listed at a 100% increase.

Taxes have increased from $53,227,500 to $56,639,000 and increased by 6.41% Miscellaneous funds have increased from $75,000 to $87,500, increasing by 16.67%

Intergovernmental funds have gone down by 10.07%, going from $721,845 in FY2022 to $651,845 in FY2023.

Expenditures experienced a similar increase to revenues, going up 6.13% with $60,753,634 in FY2022 to $64,475,861. These include general government, judicial, public safety, public works, health and welfare, culture and recreation, and housing and development. A notable increase includes public works, going from $9,133,446 to $10,463,763 with an increase of 14.57%.

Public safety went from $23,191,449 to $24,800,168 with an increase of 6.94%. Culture and recreation rounds out the top three, going from $5,023,902 to $5,310,902 with a 5.46% increase.

FY2023 also calls for a 1.5% cost of living adjustment, an across-the-board salary increase based on inflation and 2.5% merit increases, discretionary performance-based employee pay raises.

Stephanie Black, county finance director, mentioned in her highlights report that this year's budget is "conservative operations focused" based on the current economy and inflation. She said additions to fund balance were used to offset one-time costs, alleviating pressure from the budget and improving efficiencies.

County Manager Paige Dukes said during the first budget hearing that while the budget is not strong on funding for capital projects, she regards it as healthy as far as operations go. The biggest challenge this year would be working around vacancies and understaffing, she said. Black said new positions were going to be added to address various needs.

Budget approval also came with a motion to adopt the hotel/motel proceeds budget plan. Georgia statute requires a county commission adopt a county budget plan for the use of hotel/motel tax proceeds prior to the start of the fiscal year.

The same statute also requires the Lowndes County Commission to obtain from the James H. Rainwater Conference Center and Tourism Authority a budget plan for the authority's use of hotel/motel proceeds provided to the authority to promote tourism, conventions and trade shows.

The authority budget plan must be made a part of the county's budget plan. The authority's budget plan was adopted June 28.