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Crisp faces COVID-caused budget crunch

Members of the Crisp County Board of Commissioners and executive staff are working to prepare a balanced FY2021 annual budget, but the worldwide economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is making it awfully tough to get the numbers right.

“We have a preliminary budget available for inspection at the commission office,” County Administrator Clark Harrell told commissioners, “but we’re still $1.4 million out of balance. We have a lot of work left to do.”

“This is probably going to be one of the toughest budgets we’ve ever worked on,” Commission Vice Chair James Nance said.

The biggest challenge to overcome is the dramatic drop in Local Option Sales Tax revenue. County Finance Director Sherrie Leverett reported that March collections are down 11.4 percent from this period a year ago.

“And the state is anticipating April revenues to be down by 14 percent, so there are a lot more questions than answers right now,” Leverett said.

The Commission’s budget committee met after the conclusion of the regular meeting. The committee plans to have a draft budget ready for a June 9 public hearing and adoption in late June.

In other Commission business:

  • Sam Farrow reported he had received several complaints about debris pick-up in the Lake Blackshear area. Larry Felton said he has also received an increase in complaints. Wallace Mathis commended county residents who properly use the landfill to dispose of large refuse,
  • Commissioners unanimously authorized application for a $1million zero-interest Rural Economic Development Loan for projects at Crisp Regional Hospital and the Crisp County Power Commission
  • Harrell told commissioners that county employees will experience a six percent cost increase in their health insurance plans
  • Commissioners unanimously approved a request by the county Board of Elections to move the Listonia Precinct voting location from its current site to Penia Baptist Church
  • Commissioners entered into executive session to discuss personnel matters
  • Commissioners learned that total year-to-date revenues equal $16.3 million and expenditures equal $16.7 million
  • Commissioners learned the water fund and landfill fund are both operating under budget projections
  • Commissioners received a check from the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office for $96,000 for inmate housing
  • Chief Deputy Denise Youngblood told commissioners that intensive screening and disinfecting procedures have so far been successful in keeping COVID-19 out of the detention center population.