Deeper cuts for county expected

Published 9:57 pm Monday, May 11, 2009

During Monday’s Chilton County Commission meeting, chairman Tim Mims sent a warning to the county’s department heads warning of a tough budget next year now that a business license bill appears all but dead.

“I want to let each of you know to buckle up,” Mims told those department heads who were in attendance at Monday’s meeting. “It doesn’t appear that we have any way at this point to generate additional revenue.”

Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis replied that the situation was “already bad.” At which point, Mims replied, “it’s going to get worse.”

The business license bill, which was a commission-supported bill in the Alabama Legislature, would have given the county the authority to establish a county business license. The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Jimmy Martin (D-Clanton) in the Alabama House, which passed the measure last week. But, State Sen. Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo) said he would not bring the bill forward in the Alabama Senate because of concerns by some in Chilton County.

Without Erwin’s endorsement of the bill, it will not come up for a vote in the Senate, thus killing the bill for this legislative session.

“I am extremely disappointed that our senator would not move this forward,” commissioner Allen Caton said. “I talked with him last week asking for his support, and he told us he would not support it as long as the farmers federation opposed the bill.”

Caton added he called Jimmy Parnell, president of the Chilton County Farmers Federation, who said they voted to oppose the bill and will continue to do so.

Commissioner Bobby Agee, the only other member of the commission to voice their displeasure of the bill’s apparent failure, said he suggests the commission schedule work sessions immediately to begin looking at ways to bring in more revenue.

“We are required each year to present a balanced budget,” Agee said. “We can no longer operate beyond our means. It was our hope that we could continue the quality of services our residents have come to expect the same or even better.

“I’m not sure if that will be possible next year.”

The Alabama Legislature has two meeting days remaining this week, the final week of the session, giving some time for Erwin to reconsider his opposition to the bill and allow for a full Senate vote.