Money tight in county’s 2012 budget

Published 10:37 pm Monday, August 29, 2011

There’s not enough money to go around in Chilton County, so something has to give.

The Chilton County Commission held a budget hearing Monday at the county courthouse. 10 departments or organizations presented a budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2012 to the commission.

Each one of the representatives told the commission why his or her group needed more money, or at least why it couldn’t sustain more cuts—as governmental agencies across the country have dealt with the last few years as the national economy flounders.

Not everyone will get their way. In fact, no one might get their way.

“Revenue is down,” Commission Chairman Tim Mims said. “Like it or not, some cuts will have to be made.”

County Administrator Vanessa Hendrick said the commission is planning on a 5 percent reduction in revenue from the current year, when the county’s General Fund revenue just exceeded $5 million.

Other significant funds, such as the Sheriff’s Fund and the Gas Tax Fund, are also likely to fall short.

After projecting revenue for the coming fiscal year, the commission sent budget proposals to each department head, with the individual numbers matching what the commission expects to take in.

Every person that addressed the commission Monday presented their own budget, and in each case their total was more than what the commission proposed.

Many department heads said, that after several years of shrinking budgets, there was simply nothing left to cut.

“This year we don’t have any money to cut out,” Probate Judge Bobby Martin said.

Commissioners in turn expressed frustration that they depend on state legislators to pass any tax increases and that those legislators have been unwilling to do so in the past.

“We’re as broke as anyone else,” commissioner Bobby Agee said.

The most discussion was given to the presentation by county Engineer Tony Wearren, who said his budget has decreased from $2.9 million in Fiscal Year 2007 to a proposed $2.3 million in FY 2012—and it could drop further, depending on the commission’s decision.

“In this time period, fuel, material and everything else it takes to get this done has doubled,” Wearren said.

Also addressing the commission were Tom Cuthbert, vice president of the Chilton County Humane Society; Randy Yeargan, coroner; Joy Littleton with the Chilton County Industrial Development Board; Donna Wyatt with the Board of Registrars; Tax Collector Tim Little; Libby Ratliff with litter control; and Tax Assessor Rex Cleckler.

Bill Collum, director of the Chilton County Emergency Management Agency, provided a proposed budget but was not present.

Neither was Sheriff Kevin Davis.