List of fixes grow in Ben Hill financial crisis

Gutrun Mills approaches the Ben Hill Board of Commissioners during a public hearing about the county's financial situation. / Jessica Fairley

The Ben Hill County Commission held two public hearings on Thursday to see if the citizens had any solutions to their current financial bind.

Those who rallied before the board of commissioners were heated about the county's dismal financial outlook.

Gudrun and Ben Mills both took to the podium to address their concerns about the county's spending habits and those who are failing to pay their taxes.

"First they need to collect the outstanding delinquent taxes and then we need to pull in our belts," says Gudrun Mills.

Commissioners took notes from residents who had suggestions to solve the financial crisis. It was a list that started off small but grew beyond expected. Some suggested cutting out overtime, while others said delinquent tax payers should be shamed with their names put the newspaper.

It was Former County Attorney Ben Mills whose suggestion of consolidation got the most support.

"We have only one municipality in Ben Hill County, that's Fitzgerald. We don't need to have separate police county law enforcement agencies," says Ben Mills, Former Ben Hill County Attorney.

He says consolidation could save the county a minimum of one million dollars a year. During the meeting, officials stated that the issue was once placed on the ballot for voters to decide but was struck down.

"Consolidation is a tough road and it's a lot of give and take with the municipalities and counties that are involved in it. You really don't get the great savings that you think you're going to get upfront," says Frank Feild, Ben Hill County Manager.

Currently Ben Hill County has seven joint services that the city and county split between costs.

Commissioners say as they strategize a plan to save money, they are open to any suggestions that may help save the county.

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