Columbia County commissioners were given an update Tuesday on the county's budget process for the 2005-06 fiscal year and were told that some cuts had to be made to balance the budget without a millage increase.
The county's general fund budget for the coming fiscal year has been preliminarily set at $44.8 million, a 9.84 percent increase compared with the 2004-05 fiscal year, said Leanne DeLoach, the county's finance director.
To keep the budget at that, not all proposals from each individual county department have been approved. Among the cuts already made from each county department's budget requests is about $1.5 million from Sheriff Clay Whittle's proposal.
"The sheriff did not receive everything he requested because basically there weren't enough funds to do it without a property tax increase," County Administrator Steve Szablewski said.
The sheriff had requested 14 new employees, but preliminarily the department's request has been cut to only six new employees.
Speaking at the special budget meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Tommy Mercer said the sheriff's proposed budget saw one of the greatest cuts because he had asked for a 25 percent overall increase.
"We all felt like that was a bit too much," Mercer said. "... So he did take a pretty big cut, but I think it was warranted."
County officials said they plan to have the budget completed and adopted June 7.
In other action at the commission's board meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to approve an alcohol license for a business that will be accessible only by way of an entrance to several subdivisions.
The license was approved for French Market Express, which is associated with French Market Grille. The business will front Columbia Road, with its access entrance about 100 feet back into the entrance of the Ivy Falls Plantation planned unit development.
Ivy Falls Plantation includes several subdivisions, but officials said French Market Express will not be close to homes.
Sheila Homschek, who lives on Long Creek Way in the Ivy Falls development, told commissioners she isn't opposed to a French Market Express, which was referred to as a sandwich shop. However, she said, adding beer and wine to the mix and the entrance that leads to her subdivision is the problem.
Homschek was told the entrance in question was approved for commercial development before the approval of Ivy Falls. Developers of French Market Express said at the meeting that they expect to open as early as June.
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