Commission expects revenue well short of department heads’ budget requests

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Chilton County Commission is right back where it started.

After projecting revenue for Fiscal Year 2012, submitting proposed budget amounts to each department head, receiving a request back from each of those supervisors and holding two budget hearings, the commission finds itself in the same predicament: with not enough money to satisfy the status quo.

Instead, after Tuesday’s hearing it appears county department heads will have some tough decisions to make.

With the understanding that minor adjustments may be necessary, the commission indicated it would pass a budget later this month based on the proposals it made to department heads.

After receiving the proposals, those department heads presented their own budgeting requests to the commission at the last budget hearing, on Aug. 29. The difference in the combined amount requested by the department heads and the amount the commission wants to budget for ($4.8 million) is more than $333,000, County Administrator Vanessa Hendrick said.

“I don’t think we have a choice then,” Commissioner Bobby Agee said. “It’s common sense: You spend what you take in…What else can we do? We can’t just magically create a million and a half dollars.”

And that’s just the General Fund. Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis has yet to present his budget request to the commission.

The current fiscal year’s budget was set at about $5.3 million.

One option presented was the closing of the Chilton County Courthouse for one day each week, which Commissioner Allen Caton said would save the county about $224,000 a year.

No commissioner took a strong stand in favor of closing the courthouse, though several indicated such an action was a viable option and even discussed which day of the week would be best (Wednesday seemed to be the consensus) and which employees would be affected (hourly employees, not those on salaries, and the road department would be included even though it operates out of a separate building).

Commissioner Joe Headley voiced an opinion against closing the courthouse.

“[Members of the public] are used to this courthouse being open five days a week,” Headley said. “We should just give [the department heads] a budget and let them work with it. It’s their job to make it work.”

Some commissioners, including Heedy Hayes, asked Hendrick to update the budget information she presented them.

Commissioner Greg Moore was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.