HIAWASSEE, Ga – Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw presented the 2021 operating budget for the county which features a $90,000 increase from last year.
The 2020 budget was $11,174,990, and the total for 2021 is $11,265,590. The county’s currently in the midst of a spending freezing because of COVID-19, and Towns’ officials’ frugality will actually place them under budget for 2020.
“It’s a very sound budget. We have added a few things to this, animal control,” Bradshaw commented. “[The sheriff-elect] is going to hire a deputy/ animal control person.”
Since Towns County is so small, the individual will perform both deputy and animal control duties. The animal control budget will be $104,000. It includes the salary, benefits, training, supplies, shelter donations, and spay and neuter program. The expense could increase or decrease next year according to what the county needs. They already have a truck and kennel for an animal control program. In the past, the road department managed animal control. Bradshaw asked Sheriff Clinton to take over animal control when Bradshaw took office.
“I feel like we need the next level of animal control. Someone with a badge and trained to take liability off the county. Somebody’s that’s trained for animal control,” Bradshaw explained.
Sheriff-elect Ken Henderson received an additional $30,000 for new uniforms and re-decal the patrol cars. It’s part of his plan to improve the sheriff’s office image.
The library budget increased by $49,700 to assist in reopening the Young Harris library. The building temporarily closed to the public on December 1. Hopefully, it will reopen by the end of January 2021.
Bradshaw assured there was adequate money to “improve the road on Bell Mountain.”
The 2021 budget also featured a $0.50 per hour salary increase, which equates to around $150,000.
“I’m excited through frugal, frugal business practices and the help of Mrs. Linda and Andrea that we’ve been able to supply all the services and even upgrade a lot and give raises and we haven’t had to raise the millage rate,” Bradshaw remarked.
The Towns County millage rate hasn’t increased since 2008.
Sales tax revenue, SPLOST and hotel/motel, unexpected soared in 2020 putting Towns County in good financial shape to offer raises and plan for the future.
Andrea Anderson, finance director, stated, “When the governor opened back up, our revenues went up, our tourism went up.”
Neither Bradshaw nor Anderson wanted to guess if the upward tractor would continue in 2021 with a new president and COVID-19 still lingering.
“I don’t know what to anticipate,” Bradshaw said. “I’m looking at it as a business and we’re going to be as frugal as we can because we don’t know what the future is going to be.”
This conservative nature will continue until Bradshaw feels secure about the economic direction of the country.