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Thursday, January 7, 2010 - 12:46pm

Counties May Pay More for State Services

County governments often help pay for a number of state government functions, such as the criminal justice system and public health. The counties, already strapped for cash, may have to pay even more as legislators look at cutting state budgets for this fiscal year and next.

The news comes as many counties in Georgia have already increased property tax rates and cut government services.

Beth Brown, a spokeswoman for Association County Commissioners of Georgia, says she hopes the state can first cut more of its own budget this year.

"The county people are really in a pinch and we're really hoping that we can work in partnership with our state counterparts as they look at budget cuts to figure out ways they can reduce the budget that may not result in this passing of costs," says Brown.

Brown says counties will likely struggle with drops in local tax revenue due to the economy for the next year and a half.

It's unclear how much of the cost for state services might be passed to counties, due to declines in state revenues. Counties help pay operating costs for state courts and expenses to house inmates awaiting trials. They also provide funding for public health departments.

Governor Sonny Perdue, meanwhile, says he will not propose new statewide tax increases to deal with budget shortfalls.

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