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County budget nearing completion

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Chambers County’s proposed budget for 2014 is nearly completed and ready to be voted upon by county commissioners, but concerns were expressed about information technology (IT) funding in the budget at last week’s Rules, Ways and Means Committee budget hearing.

Commission Chair Debbie Wood asked why $60,000 was budgeted for professional services in the IT Support budget. The county’s IT consultant, Richard Huckaby, receives the payment and said it was because the county had yet to hire an IT consulting firm. Huckaby has worked with the county on a contract basis and was brought on to address the county’s IT problems. Huckaby said that the plan was for him to fix the problems and then the county would hire someone to manage the IT.

Jacava Mattison has been hired by the county to do IT work, but Huckaby said he is still learning and works as a “oversight guy.”

Wood said her understanding is that the $60,000 for IT would go away after Huckaby had fixed the IT problems.

Huckaby said he had saved the county a great deal of money with his recommendations and guidance and Probate Judge Brandy Easlick and Richard Carter of the Sheriff’s Department said Huckaby was a valuable asset to their offices.

Wood and the other commissioners asked about complaints from residents about how long it takes to get tags renewed and Easlick said it was partially due to the slow transfer of data from the Lanett annex to the courthouse and also because many people wait until the end of the month to renew.

County Attorney Skip McCoy recommended that the county look at the costs before Huckaby was contracted compared to current costs. Huckaby said if the value was not there he would finish his current contract and leave.

According to Dendy, the proposed budget was calculated based on submissions by county department heads and commissioners. It includes a five percent pay raise for county employees. He also said the county’s debt service is shrinking and that increases in revenue have come thanks to court costs, which cover bonds on the courthouse annex.

The final budget hearing will be held on Monday of next week, and Dendy said that the proposed budget for 2014 stands at $5,187,028.

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