Let’s have no reason to sue in ’09

Published 10:36 pm Monday, September 8, 2008

It’s getting to be that time again this year for the county commission – budget time. The month of September is the month where the commission must work out an operating budget for the fiscal year 2008-09. The commission and department heads have already put in some work to create a budget that everyone can work with, and we hope the budgeting process isn’t as controversial as last year.

Because tax revenues were down and the commission had to borrow money in previous years, budgets were slashed in all county departments. The most notable cut was with the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department. The disagreement over funding led to a lawsuit being filed in Circuit Court.

While we don’t want to take sides over who is right or wrong in the issue, we do hope that both sides will have much better lines of communication in formulating this year’s budget. There should be no reason for any kind of lawsuit to be filed over the budget. There is only a limited amount of money, and the Alabama State Code governs the way the commission can budget that money. One of those requirements is that the commission must have a balanced budget.

If the revenue goes down for a year, then the expenses among all departments must go down as well. Some might get cut more than others, but the departments should be cut so that the most essential services aren’t cut as much. If the revenue increases, we hope the money will be distributed to the departments in a way that would be most beneficial for the county to improve services.

This is a difficult proposition because there are so many departments and only about $16 million in revenue to go around. When you start the year in the hole with debts from the previous years, then you are really financially strapped.

We’re hoping the county won’t have to borrow much money at the end of the 2007-08 fiscal year so that we don’t find ourselves in the difficult predicament we were in last year.