CHATSWORTH — Sole commissioner Jim Welch approved Murray County’s 2006 budget on Thursday at $14.24 million. The budget, up from $12.8 million this year, includes $440,000 more in spending for the jail.

The 2006 budget calls for $1.7 million in spending for the jail, compared to $1.26 million this year. The increase includes $230,000 to house prisoners outside the county and $30,000 for a new employee, as well as regular inflation costs, said Tommy Parker, Welch’s administrative assistant.

The jail opened in 1993 to hold 120 prisoners. The daily average is currently closer to 140, meaning several prisoners are being housed in other counties, Sheriff Howard Ensley has said.

County officials say the $230,000 should cover the costs of housing 17 prisoners a day in another county for a year. Ensley had originally asked for $410,000 to cover the cost of housing 25 a day outside the county.

Parker said the district attorney’s and public defender’s offices are each placing an attorney in the jail to help get cases through the court system faster.

“We hope with the help of the district attorney’s office, public defender’s office and the court system we can live with that budget,” Parker said. “This is all temporary. We will still need more room at the jail.”

Welch hopes county voters will pass another SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) in August to pay for a new pod at the jail.

The new employee at the jail will be used to help provide courthouse security, said chief deputy Ray Sitton. The $30,000 includes pay, benefits and additional equipment for the employee.

“We’re having to add more positions to cover the courthouse because they are adding another day of court next year,” Sitton said.

Probate and juvenile cases will be handled on Tuesday, criminal cases on Wednesday, civil cases on Thursday and juvenile cases again on Friday if cases are left over from Tuesday.

“We are going to have people tied up at court pretty much every day,” Sitton said.

• The sheriff’s office’s budget is increasing from $1.1 million to almost $1.7 million. The increase includes money for fuel costs, inflation and another deputy position. The deputy position will cost approximately $25,000, including benefits and some equipment, Parker said.

• The election office’s budget is up from $84,317 to $169,900 because 2006 is a “full election year,” Parker said. Elections will be held for three school board positions and some state offices.

• The recreation department’s budget has been increased by almost $21,000 to pay for costs associated with the new recreation facility on Hyden Tyler Road that opened this year. The 2006 budget is $590,000, up from $569,000 in 2005.

“But the department’s revenue increased $40,000 to offset that,” Parker said. “That’s from growth in (the sale of) concessions and activity fees.”

• The public works budget is increasing by $400,000, but the county is receiving that amount in state Department of Transportation grants, Parker said.

• The district attorney’s office budget is up almost $64,000, from $163,300 to $226,000. The increase is a result of Welch agreeing to put employees in that office on the state’s payroll, meaning they will receive state benefits and will be paid on the state’s pay scale. The state will basically bill the county for those employees.

• Juvenile Court’s budget is rising from $104,000 to $169,000. The public defender’s office had been handling all cases in Juvenile Court. Now the office will only handle cases involving delinquency, meaning the cost of other cases goes back to the court, Parker said.

Other expected increases in revenue are:

• Approximately $566,000 more in property taxes is expected due to a property tax increase this year and reassessed values. This year $5.7 million is expected to be collected, while next year $6.3 million is expected to be collected.

The property tax rate was increased from 5.8 mills in 2004 to 6.395 mills this year.

• Some $387,000 more in sales tax revenue is expected. Close to $3.1 million is expected to be collected this year, while $3.5 million is expected for next year.

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