AllOnGeorgia recently reached out to Chattooga County’s Sole Commissioner Blake Elsberry for an update on the county’s finances and the Tooga Theater.
AOG: How is the County looking from a financial standpoint?
How much TAN money was borrowed in 2021, how much was paid back? Do you anticipate using TAN again, if so when?
What accomplishments from a financial standpoint are you pleased with after year one?
What were your disappointments/frustrations from a financial standpoint over your first 12 months?
What are your goals for over the next three years?
Elsberry: We are not out of the woods yet, but the county is starting 2022 financially better than it has in any year in the past 6 years. In 2021 we borrowed 4.5 million in TAN, which was the amount that was borrowed in 2020. We only used 2.8 million last year and that was paid off in December before Christmas. I anticipate still needing to take out a TAN in 2022, but at a lower amount. I believe if we continue to make the progress like we have the first year we can continue to lessen our dependance on the TAN notes year to year.
Accomplishments from a financial standpoint in the first year would be of course the utilization of less TAN funding and starting the year out better financially. I would say also finding ways to stretch our county dollars further to get things done and being transparent with our department directors and other elected officials on the financial state of the county. Those open lines of communication help all the departments understand where we are financially and facilitate everyone working together on a regular basis. That cooperation is one of the reasons why we were able to lower the millage this year to the lowest it has been in 3 years.
I would say the biggest disappointments/frustrations from a financial standpoint come from when you find yourself making headway and then an unplanned expenditure comes in. Of course, that is always going to happen. Equipment is going to break down and unforeseen things are going to happen. It just makes it harder when you are working in a very tight budget.
The goals as far as finances are concerned for the next 3 years are to continue working on lowering our dependence on the TAN funding, continue going after all of the grant funding we can to help stretch our county dollars further, and continue working with all of our departments to get us to a more stable place financially.
AOG: Any progress on the Tooga?
Elsberry: The exterior theater renovations are going on now. Some painting has been done. We are still waiting on the windows to come in. They are currently rebuilding a door and repairing the glass block work above the windows. Then following that, the facade will be washed and painted and then the marquee will be installed. This work is being funded through a grant from the Fox theater. We have applied for state funding to complete the renovation of the entire theater and should know whether or not we are awarded that funding sometime at the end of January.