Upson County Manager Mark Bryant announced Friday that a freeze on hiring, salary increases and capital expenditures would take place effective immediately.
Bryant said that recent, discouraging news reported by Tax Commissioner Jimmy McKinley regarding the status of Mirant and WesTek Corporations' tax liabilities makes the spending freeze necessary.
"The failure of these companies to pay a combined 2003 tax bill of $450,000 pretty much offsets the additional revenue we were expected to raise with the recent two mill property tax increase," Bryant said. "Thanks to the excess SPLOST (Special Project Local Option Sales Tax) funds we were able to transfer to the General Fund, we should be okay in meeting our year end budget obligations and note repayments, but only if we do everything possible to control our spending in the coming weeks and possibly months."
Upson County's amended 2003 budget of over $11.5 million calls for the generating of nearly $7.2 million in property taxes.
The Upson Board of Commissioners voted last August for Bryant to transfer over $500,000 in excess SPLOST funds to the General Fund, but the county manager had hoped to use that money to start building a reserve fund - something the county has done without for far too long, Bryant said.
Bryant said he began meeting with department heads and constitutional officers Friday regarding the freeze and expects more meetings this week.