Commission tells sheriff he won’t get budget requested

Published 9:35 pm Monday, September 19, 2011

Chilton County’s sheriff spoke to the county commission Monday about his budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will likely see the sheriff allotted $430,000 less than he asked for.

The sheriff isn’t alone; his meeting with the commission was the last in a series that saw each department head express exasperation that they could be expected to make further cuts after having already reduced their budgets to the bare minimum.

Sheriff Kevin Davis proposed a budget of about $3.7 million, while the commission told Davis he would have about $3.3 million.

“You’re asking basically to go into uncharted territory to run the sheriff’s department, and I don’t know where to start,” Davis said.

Davis stressed the importance of being able to at least keep the staff he has and also said he and other officials sometimes don’t understand how an overall budget of about $15 million can equate to only $5.3 million to spend.

Commissioner Allen Caton’s response was that most of the revenue is earmarked for certain expenditures.

“It’s tough,” Caton said at the special budget hearing at the Chilton County Courthouse. “I’ve looked at it; everybody here has.”

Commissioner “Red” Turnipseed suggested looking at whether some expenses—such as the Airport Authority, the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging and the Chilton County Transit Authority—that currently come out of the General Fund could be moved to the Trade School and Industrial and Rural Development Fund, which has a balance of $939,000.

Turnipseed said such moves could save as much as $100,000 for the General Fund.

“That’s just a drop in the bucket, but every little bit is going to help us,” he said.

But commissioners had concerns about such an arrangement.

Caton pointed out that the Trade School Fund sees limited income and that it would be unwise to drain the account, and Commissioner Bobby Agee said he wouldn’t want it to become a yearly practice to use Trade School money.

“Once we set that precedent, we have to continue it from year to year,” Agee said.

The commissioners present—chairman Tim Mims, Joe Headley and Heedy Hayes were absent—all agreed with Agee when he said the only solution to the county’s financial woes appears to be a 1-cent sales tax increase.

“Until we get some type of funding, we’re going to always have this problem,” Agee said.

The commission set a work session for 5 p.m. on Sept. 26, one hour before the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting. The commission also scheduled a special meeting for Sept. 30, in case more time was needed to pass a budget, which must be approved before the end of the month.