Maplesville cuts three employees

Published 9:23 pm Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The town of Maplesville laid off a full-time police officer and two part-time employees Tuesday night to help balance the town’s budget.

Mayor Aubrey Latham said he was hoping and praying the town could get through the year without staff cuts.

“It’s not something we want to do. We just don’t have the money,” Latham said.

The cuts included two part-time employees, one who worked one day a week in the library and another who worked three days a week in the streets department. The town also laid off its most recently hired police officer.

For the year, Maplesville’s revenue is running about $30,000 short of what leaders anticipated. That deficit more than doubled when the town learned in the spring that a tax abatement given to South Coast Paper hadn’t been taken due to a clerical error the company was making.

Now that proper paperwork has been filed, the abatement means the town’s ad valorem, or property, taxes will take an unexpected $32,000 hit each year for the next six years.

One of the toughest votes Tuesday came when the town voted to lay off Police Officer Jerry Hood.

Police Chief Todd Ingram told the council losing a patrol officer would affect how efficiently his department operates. With the staff cut, the department now includes Ingram and three patrol officers.

“(Operating with four people), something is going to give one way or another,” Ingram said.

Council members John Caudle and Ray Mitchell voted to eliminate the position, while Mike Bearden and Michael Abbot voted against the move. Mayor Aubrey Latham made the deciding vote in favor of the budget cut. Councilman Jim Threadgill was absent from the meeting.

“The hard, cold fact is we don’t have the money,” Latham said.

The council met in a work session Monday to discuss possible cuts prior to Tuesday’s meeting. The mayor and council members said it has been a restless two days.

“The last couple of days have been tough,” said Caudle, adding that decisions were made to “take care of this town.”

The council debated closing the town’s senior center, which would have saved approximately $30,000 a year, but the idea wasn’t supported by a majority of council members.

In other business, the council took the following actions:

•Approved changes in SouthernLINC services concerning the fire department that will save $65 a month.

•Approved Police Officer Josh Hammond’s step raise after his 90-day probationary period and added Patrick Worley to the department’s reserves.

•Passed a resolution combining the town’s leash law and vicious animal ordinances into one.