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New chairman begins term, sets first goal
by Mary Cosgrove
January 03, 2013 01:03 PM | 1943 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The first order of business of new Henry County Chairman Tommy Smith is to take a look at the county’s organizational chart regarding its board-appointed positions.

The positions that come under the county board of commission’s jurisdiction are the county manager, county attorney, county clerk, executive assistant, communication director and safety officer.

“If you don’t change the way you’re doing things and you don’t change the people, you’re trying to achieve different results with the same people,” Smith said.

Whether there will be a great turnover in those positions, he would not say, though he said some personnel shifting is typically expected when a new term begins.

“Regardless of what I think, the board has to go with it,” Smith said. “There might be some changes I’d like to make.”

Once the organizational chart is looked at, Smith said he wants to “concentrate on the pay of the employees.” He said he’d also like the budget to be audited from July 1 when it was put in place to Dec. 31.

He said he feels grateful for his experience working with budgets after a 24-year stint as the mayor of Hampton.

“I feel really good going into a $105 million budget with 24 years experience with budget than going into a $105 million budget with no experience,” he said.

However, he does realize the challenges.

“It’s going to be unique because we’re in some bad economic times and I campaigned on no new taxes,” he said. “I will not vote to increase taxes.”

He said managing the county’s budget is looking at the past, present and future. Now that he’s in office, he’ll be working on the audit of the 2011-12 budget, implementing the 2012-13 budget and beginning to create the 2013-14 budget.

As far as specifics to increasing revenue, decreasing expenditures or a combination of both, Smith said he hasn’t gotten that far yet.

He pointed to two county owned investments that are causing a strain on the general fund budget, — the golf course and the airport.

He said the county has committed to two phases of improvements at the airport, the majority of which will be funded through federal and state dollars, but the county will still need to cough up a collective $320,000. The golf course is financed through 2017 and is paying $464,000 a year in interest, he said.

“If we could sell it and put the money back in our general fund, we probably couldn’t get 50 cents on the dollar,” he said. “Sometimes you might just have to cut your losses and move on to something better.

“What we’re going to do is take a little time and get our house in order.”

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