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County revenues are declining

McDuffie County is beginning to feel an economic crunch like other counties in Georgia.

"The economic downturn is definitely catching up with us here in McDuffie County," County Manager Don Norton said July 30. "It hasn't gotten as bad as it is in many other counties, but we are beginning to see some effects of a downturn in our local economy."

In addition to regular sales taxes being down, there are also decreases in hotel/motel taxes, as well as car/truck sales in McDuffie County, he said.

"We're definitely down all the way around, but it's not as bad as could get," Mr. Norton said. "And we're thankful for that."

The county's hotel/motel taxes, which helps fund the McDuffie County Tourism and Visitors Convention, is down about 20 percent, Mr. Norton said.

He says he believes those figures are down because of the overall economy and that so many people are out of jobs.

Mr. Norton said he didn't think as many people were vacationing as they were this time last year, and therefore, not staying in local hotels and motels.

"Our overall national economy is starting to trickle down where we feel the effects more on the local level," Mr. Norton said. "I'm hopeful it's going to improve. In the meantime, we'll just have to keep a close eye on things and hope for the best."

Mr. Norton said staying upbeat is the best thing that local counties can do right now.

"We've all got to believe that things are going to get better -- sooner than later," he added.

Within the next 30 days, the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners is expected to convene for a budget work session with heads of departments.

He praised department heads, saying, "They have really been working well with us."

In the future, spending will become much tighter.

"We will be attempting to do whatever we can to save money," Mr. Norton said.

Already, the county manager said, department heads are preparing budgets with a 2 to 10 percent decrease over last year.

"We're going to consider everything we have to in order to conserve and save in the new budget," Mr. Norton said.

The new 2010 budget must be finalized by Oct. 20.

Web posted on Thursday, August 06, 2009

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