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December 11--  Toombs County's general fund budget is projected to go up nearly a quarter-million dollars in 2013, but officials caution there are some unknowns which could cause some changes.

At its last meeting of the year Tuesday, the Toombs County Commission approved a nearly $9.3 million maintenance and operations budget.

It includes a four percent pay raise for county employees which was contested by Commissioners Roy Lee Williams and Skeeter Toole who wanted a five percent raise.  Commissioners Jeff McCormick and Louie Powell favored a four percent increase and Commission Chairman Buddy West cast the deciding vote for four percent.

"Going to a five percent could have cost this Commission and employees a lot of heartache and contentiousness and been very argumentative in the future.  I think more of the county having harmonious times than I do of a one percent pay raise," West said in casting his vote.

Incoming Commission Chairman Blake Tillery told the meeting he would not support across the board salary increases in the future.  He said raises would be based on recommendations by supervisors based on merit.

Commissioner Jeff McCormick warned the new budget faces a couple of key unknowns.  

On the revenue side, the Commission is awaiting a Superior Court ruling which could increase or reduce its share of local option sales tax collections.  The budget which passed assumes an increase of $150,000 in sales tax revenue in 2013.

On the expense side, he said the impact of Obamacare is not factored into the budget and could cause some adjustments to county health care insurance costs in the coming year.   The county's share of premiums could go down while at the same time it may have to start paying health insurance for employees who work 30 hours a week.

The biggest line item in the budget is the cost of county law enforcement and the jail.  Those budgets are up more than ten percent and total more than $2 million.

{mosimage}The Commission provided farewell plaques to three departing members and approved the hiring of a new county manager. 

Chairman West (center) and Skeeter Toole (right) served four years and Commissioner Louie Powell (left)is leaving after 12 years.

John Jones of Eastman was approved to succeed Doug Eaves and will start fulltime in January with a salary of $72,500 a year.