Bryan County and the rest of the coastal counties found out exactly what the price tag is going to be for the first year of starting up the Coastal Comprehensive Plan.
The Coastal Georgia Regional Development Center board of directors approved dues at $0.615 per capita, meaning Bryan County will have to pay additional dues into the CGRDC based on population to help implement the plan.
CGRDC Chairman Allen Burns said the implementation of the plan already has a $300,000 grant coming from the Department of Community Affairs for the first year, with a dollar-for-dollar match required by each of the six coastal counties. The $0.615 per capita addition will allow the counties to meet those match requirements.
County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said the increased dues for the county aren’t very much, especially when considering the importance of the plan.
"This is very important. I think this plan is critical for us because it’s going to enable us to take a look at the broader picture," Burnsed said. "Everyone’s just looked at it in their county only. Now we’re going to look at it from the perspective of six counties and I think that’s critical for planning and making it work the right way."
Burnsed said the additional dues for Bryan County will be around $9,000, on top of regular dues of about $17,000, for a total for fiscal year 2009 approximately $26,000. Burnsed said dues are expected to go down after this first year of implementation.
"It’s something that we need to do, I can’t imagine any of the coastal counties opting out of this plan," he said, noting the plan should pay for itself in the long run.
Burns described the overall CGRDC budget as "balanced," with the Coastal Comp Plan and a Coordinated Transportation Plan for coastal Georgia being the two major components of the budget.
The CGRDC is planning on keeping transportation dues for each county the same. Counties will buy into the transportation plan on a yearly basis and Bryan County has already signed up to be a part of the new coastal-wide system for the upcoming fiscal year.
Most of the start-up costs are being covered by grants and the program will officially start in July. The CGRDC also expects additional funding from the state in the future.
The approved CGRDC budget for FY09 is $12,592,669. The current fiscal year’s budget is about $8 million. The CGRDC is funded through federal, state and local funding.
Additionally, the CGRDC budget is funding the transformation of statewide Regional Development Centers to Regional Commissions. Currently, there are 16 RDCs in Georgia and after House Bill 1216 passed this year, Georgia will reorganize the RDC boundaries to create 12 Regional Commissions.
Burns said the organization changes are mainly structural and should allow them to "provide a better level of service to all the counties."
The CGRDC offers aging services for seniors, planning and government services, geographic information systems and information technology services and transportation services.