Cobb County commissioners got their first look Tuesday at the proposed budget for the upcoming year and was already faced with a revenue shortfall.
The way the county pays its bills is like a credit card. Charge first, use taxes to pay up later. Since commissioners voted not to raise the millage rate this year, the new proposed budget is $21.5 million short.
Commission Chairman Mike Boyce voted in favor of raising the millage rate. He said now the county will have to pull money from several funds that had been set aside for one-time uses.
"This should be very sobering that it's all very well and easy to talk about cutting taxes," Boyce said. "But how do you run a five-star county on a three-star budget?"
Boyce said commissioners will have to look at ways to increase revenue, like charging fees to people outside the county for using public services and charging for parking later in the evenings. Many of the parking decks stop charging after 5 p.m.
Boyce also said Cobb will have to look at cutting services, things like like mowing the grass in road medians. But as far as job cuts:
"I am very sensitive to talking about anything involving reduction in force for the staff," he said.
Pushback from Cobb residents led to commissioners voting to keep the millage rate the same. But Boyce said in order to meet needs next year, there's a possibility of the millage rate raising even higher than it would have been this year.
"We have to pay our bills," he said.
The next public hearing will be on Aug. 22. Commissioners plan to adopt the budget Sept.12.