Thomas County Starts Looking Towards 2006 Budget

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Thomas County manager Michael Stephenson is crunching numbers this week as department heads submit their budget requests.

Stephenson estimates that the county's 2006 budget will be about $20 million, but says department requests exceed $25 million.

The breakdown shows government buildings, Sheriff's Office and sanitation as a few of the departments asking for a bigger piece of next year's budget.

Michael Stephenson, Thomas County Manager, says, "I've been here seven years and I haven't seen requests this large, so I'm not really sure why until I sit down and talk with the departments."

After looking at all the requests, the county manager says there will have to be some compromise on next year's budget, but some department heads say they have needs that should be met.

Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell says, "We think there's also some basic things that are required in order for society, and of course one of these is being secure in your home, and that's a large part of our job and that's the part that I'm going to be dedicated to respond to."

Sheriff Powell says his request for eight new deputies, five new jailers and one new drug agent will help his office better serve the rapidly growing Thomas County.

County Manager Michael Stephenson says he'll now sit down with each department head and review requests before submitting his final budget recommendation to county commissioners at the end of October.

After receiving the county manager's recommendation, Thomas County commissioners will have until the end of the year to approve a 2006 budget.