COVINGTON — Newton County will use $2.6 million it received from the sale of property by the Joint Development Authority at Stanton Springs to reduce its fiscal year 2022 general fund budget.

During a budget presentation Tuesday night, County Manager Lloyd Kerr explained that the $2.6 million was used to reduce the total proposed general fund budget from about $81 million to $78.1 million. Even with that reduction, the proposed budget is 2.5% more than the fiscal year 2021 budget of $76.2 million due to increased expenditures in a number of county departments.

Kerr said the $2.6 million will actually be spent in 2021 to fund capital projects, which means those projects will not be included in the budget for 2022.

District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson said that taxpayers had long been told to expect that the county would receive tax relief from its investment in economic development at Stanton Springs, which is owned by Newton, Walton, Morgan and Jasper counties. Henderson said he wanted a dollar figure for how much tax savings property owners could expect from the $2.6 million.

Finance Director Brittany White explained that the calculation was not that straightforward since the money was being used to offset other capital costs that were initially included in the 2022 budget, thereby reducing the overall budget. She presented a budget transfer resolution for those capital expenditures, including:

♦ $40,000 for a server for GIS

♦ $39,140 software NextGen project

♦ $41,887 for software for the Tax Commissioner’s Office

♦ $500,000 in vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office

♦ $200,000 in miscellaneous capital equipment for the Sheriff’s Office

♦ $50,000 for the Newton County jail

♦ $30,000 for Station 1 renovations for Fire Services

♦ $46,500 for a truck for Fire Services

♦ $29,000 for nozzle hose for Fire Services

♦ $50,000 for an Animal Services surgery suite — partial funding

♦ $49,522 for a one-ton truck for Public Works

♦ $70,000 for two trucks for Development Services

♦ $100,000 for audio equipment for courtrooms

♦ $100,000 for paint for the Historic Courthouse

♦ $80,000 for a generator at the Administration Building

♦ $40,000 for carpet at the Administration Building

♦ $150,000 for unforeseen building repairs

♦ $987,201 miscellaneous recreation projects

Commissioners approved the transfer of the $2.6 million to these capital projects, with Henderson abstaining.

District 1 Commissioner Stan Edwards pointed out that it would be hard to quantify a per-person dollar amount in tax savings from the $2.6 million, “but it took $2.6 million out of the next fiscal year budget,” he said. “While it may be hard to quantify … that money from the JDA has definitely gone toward needs for this county, and it’s money we don’t hav to ask our taxpayers for.”

Two public hearings on the budget will be held before adoption of the budget. The first public hearing is set for Tuesday, June 8, at 6 p.m.; the second is set for Tuesday, June 15, at 6 p.m. Both public hearings will be held at the Historic Courthouse.

Final adoption of the budget is set for Tuesday, June 15, at 7 p.m.

The Historic Courthouse is located at 1124 Clark St., Covington.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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