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ACC Commission to vote on budget tonight

Athens-Clarke County Commissioners are set to vote on the county’s $274 million budget at their regular meeting tonight.

Work on the county’s budget began more than six months ago with the establishment of broad budget goals by the mayor and commission. During the winter and early spring, Mayor Kelly Girtz and County Manager Blaine Williams met with department heads to work through their budget requests, and commissioners began working on Girtz’s proposed budget early last month.

One of the biggest issues in the budget has been pay for Athens-Clarke County library employees. While the Mayor and Commission passed a $15 per hour minimum wage for most county employees last year, the library is overseen not by the county but by the state Board of Regents, meaning that library staff weren’t included in the countywide pay hike. Commissioners have addressed that issue in this year’s budget with a $315,000 appropriation.

Also part of the budget is a modest reduction in the county’s property tax rate. Many property owners were shocked last month when they received their property tax assessments, after skyrocketing growth in property values led to big tax bills.

ACC residents will have one final chance to comment on the proposed budget at 6:00 PM, immediately before commissioners begin their regular voting meeting.

Also on commissioners’ agendas tonight are a few changes to the current year’s budget, including an infusion of $95,000 to the county’s elections office to cover extra expenses stemming from elections last year and this year, as well as a request from the county’s Animal Services Department for $150,000 to cover veterinary care for animals in the county’s shelter.

Commissioners are also expected to vote on an updated Complete Streets plan to guide the design of transportation upgrades across the county and a resolution naming June as Athens Pride Month.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6:00 PM and will be streamed on the county’s YouTube page.

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