New jail best budget choice in long term
by Shaka S. Lias
Jan 27, 2011 | 3161 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown, left, answers questions Wednesday on the 2011 proposed budget and was joined by County Administrator Steve Bradley and Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown, left, answers questions Wednesday on the 2011 proposed budget and was joined by County Administrator Steve Bradley and Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown met with department heads Wednesday morning to discuss the 2011 proposed budget of $105,107,800.

Brown admitted the new jail places a strain on the budget, but said the county was left with few options.

"I don't think -- when it comes to prisoners -- you have a choice," he said.

An alternative would have been not building the jail and housing prisoners at surrounding county jails, but Brown said that would have cost more in the long run.

Sheriff Clark Millsap said construction is almost complete on the jail, which is set to open in March, and interviews are under way for the new employees.

County Administrator Steve Bradley said the county anticipates continued furloughs and other cost-saving measures put in place to keep the budget balanced.

Meanwhile, Melinda Lemmon, executive director of Economic Development for Cartersville-Bartow County, said she has "encouraging news" for Brown in the form of a positive presentation at the annual meeting in February.

"From a business standpoint, it may take a couple years for Bartow County to recover from the economic challenges that it has seen, but I'm encouraged there are some tools in place here," she said.

Lemmon said Bartow is a great location and the workforce is exceptional.

"We have all these things going for us; we're starting to see that Bartow County is in an exceptional position," Lemmon said.

Bradley agreed.

He said he sees increased activity with retail stores and restaurants. "It seems to be more of a bustle in the community now than we have seen since this recession started."

Bradley recalled going to lunch each day with Brown during the worst of the recession.

"It was disheartening to see what was going on in our community, retail stores and restaurants," he said. "We sensed that and the attitudes have increased a good bit."

Brown chimed in, saying those attitudes impact the budget in the form of sales tax revenues.

"Remember the SPLOST tax is a roll back of the property tax, so we collect one cent for special purpose like building the jail," Brown said, adding estimates for last year's budget were close to the final figures.

The next commissioner's meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 9, adoption of the budget is expected to take place.