Commission passes trimmed down budget

Published 9:41 pm Monday, September 26, 2011

The Chilton County Commission passed a budget Monday for the upcoming fiscal year that will likely mean cuts in county departments and a subsequent effect on services.

The budget totals about $15 million, with the two largest shares going to the General Fund ($4.87 million) and the Sheriff’s Fund ($3.43 million).

The current year’s General Fund was budgeted at just more than $5 million, while Sheriff Kevin Davis’ funding ends up about $400,000 less than what he told the commission he needed.

Davis’ department was cut at the same rate as others. The commission projected revenue for FY 2012 and cut all departments at the same percentage necessary to balance the budget.

The result was county departments being cut about 13 percent each.

Davis was the only department head who addressed the commission at its meeting Monday at the Chilton County Courthouse. He told commissioners that cutting deputies was not an option, so the only way he could reach his budgeted amount would be to lay off staff at the Chilton County Jail.

A side effect of that move could be that the jail staff no longer allow visitors, and that inmates lose medical care beyond simply being given necessary medication.

“I cannot cut services on the street,” Davis said. “It wouldn’t be safe for the deputies, and it wouldn’t be safe for the citizens.”

The commissioners showed concern but were unmoved.

“I’m sure there’s not a person here that wouldn’t give you this money if we could,” Commissioner Bobby Agee said. “The money is just not there. We’re in a crisis situation.”

The commission voted 5-1 for the budget, with Heedy Hayes in opposition and “Red” Turnipseed abstaining because of a conflict of interest brought about by his employment in the juvenile court system.

Hayes said he was in favor of basing a budget on the current year’s revenue instead of anticipating a decrease. Hayes said it would be a “disaster” if revenue did not decrease as expected but department heads had already cut their staffs.

As soon as the budget passed, Agee moved to invite state legislators that represent the county to visit a future meeting so that commissioners could again impress on them the need for a new source of revenue, namely a 1-cent sales tax.

The motion passed unanimously.