County may continue emergency spending

Published 8:34 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Earlier this year, the Chilton County Commission passed a resolution for “emergency spending,” giving the commission the authority to restrict spending significantly as revenues from sales taxes and other areas declined.

In that decision, they were set to re-evaluate that decision in June, but it appears now that emergency spending resolution may continue for the rest of the year.

“At this point I would be inclined to continue emergency spending, but we will decide that next month,” commissioner Bobby Agee said after reviewing a brief snapshot of the county’s finances. “I would have to agree,” commission chairman Tim Mims said.

The commission is set to further discuss the issue and decide on whether to extend the curtailed spending at their first meeting in June.

The commissioners also discussed the need to begin work as soon as possible on possible revenue enhancements that could help the county prevent even deeper staff and spending cuts in the next fiscal year.

“We’ve got to do something and we need to start immediately getting together on a plan for additional revenues,” commissioner Allen Caton said. “I don’t think we need to overlook any idea, because we are in bad shape.”

“We are out of money,” Mims said in response. “We’ve got to put together a balanced budget, and it does not look good for next year.”

The county’s fiscal year begins each October and runs through the following Sept. 30. The current fiscal year — the 2009 fiscal year — will come to an end on Sept. 30, 2009.

In a previous meeting, Mims alluded to the potential of staff cuts in many of the county’s departments in order to present a balanced budget.

“I’ve heard from folks saying, ‘why don’t you just lay some folks off,’” commissioner Joe Headley said. “No one is worried about laying people off, just as long it’s not their job.

“I don’t want it to come to that.”

Caton suggested the commission arrange for a work session to begin plans for revenue enhancements that could involve help from the Alabama Legislature.

A bill put forth by the commission aimed at generating money this year, a proposed county business license, did not pass because State Sen. Hank Erwin (R-Montevallo) did not put the bill up in the Senate for a vote. Erwin opposed the bill as it was written.

“We’ve got dilapidated roads that we can’t fix. We’ve got a courthouse that is outdated. We’ve got a judicial system that is outdated. And, we have no money to fix any of it,” Caton said. “This is not a smokescreen to gain support for anything, we’re about being dead serious.”