CHIPLEY — The Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved a budget of $23,070,325 Monday night, and set the county millage rate at 8.9195 — lower than what was originally recommended.
The 2014 budget does not fund a human resources director, a computer IT person nor an administrative assistant for the county manager, three jobs that all currently have people employed at the county annex.
As of the end of September, however, those jobs will go away.
“What’s happening to these folks here is not even Christian,” Commissioner Joel Pate said. “It’s not even non-Christian.”
Pate and Commissioner Todd Abbott were the only two commissioners to vote against the budget, which effectively fires three employees.
Commissioners Lynn Gothard, Alan Bush and Charles Brock all voted in favor of the budget.
The commissioners were unanimous in their decision to set the millage rate, although Abbott said he would support raising the millage rate if it could save the three jobs. “This is three people’s lives we’re talking about, and their families’ lives,” Abbott said.
Previously, Abbott had been against any tax increases, even though the Clerk of Courts had recommended to the board that they set the 2014 millage at 9.23 to provide adequate funding for the county.
County Attorney Jeff Goodman told the board that to change the millage rate at this point would require re-advertising and holding more public hearings. “The board would have to absorb the cost of that,” he said.
Deputy Clerk Johnnie Odom said the budget that the commissioners passed has enough money in it to pay for the three jobs that were deleted by the commission’s decision.
Abbott also told the commissioners that there was money in the budget to fund the three positions. “The money is there, if you all were even a little bit concerned you would spend some time at the clerk’s office and see the proof.”
Bush said the total budget for the county is $22,471,139 and the budget for the Sunny Hills MSBU is $599,186 for a total 2014 budget of $23,070,325.
Abbott told the commissioners that there was money in the budget to fund the positions.
“Three people are going to lose their jobs,” Abbott said. “I’m ashamed to be a part of it, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The board meets again at 9 a.m. today for their September workshop. The next regular board meeting will be held at 9 a.m. on Sept. 26.