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New Macon County Board chairman points to difficult financial outlook, 'tough couple of years'

New Macon County Board chairman points to difficult financial outlook, 'tough couple of years'

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DECATUR — A familiar face will once again lead the Macon County Board, as the majority of Democrats joined all Republicans during a special meeting Monday night to select Kevin Greenfield their chairman for the next two years.

Greenfield, a Republican, served as chairman from 2014 to 2016. He has spent the last two years as chairman of the county's Finance Committee, overseeing the budgeting process.

And while Greenfield said he was honored to be elected, he added the board faces significant financial challenges in the future.

“It’s going to be a tough couple of years,” he said. “I wish I could tell you that we’re going to find a big pot of money somewhere, but we know that’s not going to happen.”

Greenfield takes over for Democratic board member Jay Dunn, who served as chairman for two years.

Monday’s meeting was the first since the GOP took control of the county board following the November election, from an 11-10 Democratic advantage to a 12-9 Republican edge.

Greenfield was the only candidate nominated for the chairman position, and six Democrats joined all 12 Republicans in electing him. Democratic board members Helena Bucknor, Patricia Dawson and Rachel Joy voted "present" while Verzell Taylor voted "no."

Monday also saw Republican Debra Kraft elected vice-chairman of the county board. Committee appointments are expected to be completed by early next year.

This is the first time Republicans have held a majority on the board since 2016. Despite the Republican advantage, Dunn served as chairman from 2012 to 2014.

How much the partisan makeup of the board will affect decisions remains to be seen. Board members have prided themselves on being a low-key, bipartisan group void of public, partisan bickering in recent years.

In his first remarks as chairman, Greenfield immediately praised the work Dunn has done over the past two years as chairman.

“I especially want to thank Chairman Dunn … he’s not only become an adversary, but he’s become a good friend,” Greenfield said. “And he has done one hell of a job as county board chairman.”

Democrat Tim Dudley, who previously served as vice-chairman, also praised Dunn.

“I think you’ve probably been the best chairman we’ve ever had on this board,” Dudley said. “I cannot thank you enough.”

Regardless of party affiliation, Greenfield and board members acknowledged they will have to come together and make some difficult decisions in the coming year, as a dwindling population and decreased sales tax revenue continues to cut into the budget.

As of last month, the county had a fund balance, or reserve, of $5.1 million.

Local Democrats search for answers as Republicans celebrate big gains in Macon County

Contact Ryan Voyles at (217) 421-7985. Follow him on Twitter: @RVVoyles

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