Commission hopes to propose budget by Sept. 30

Published 4:09 pm Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chilton County Commission Chairman Allen Caton said plans are underway for the commission to propose budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year by Sept. 30.

“We are still working on it right now,” Caton said. “Everything is coming along; we are just waiting for each department head to submit their budgets so we can review everything and hopefully be ready by Sept. 30.”

Commissioners met Monday during a scheduled work session to discuss and review the budgets that were turned in so far. Caton said the commission decided to schedule a follow-up work session on Sept. 24 after the regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.

Currently, Caton said each department head has operated the 2012-2013 fiscal year within their proposed budgets, but one of the hurdles the commission faces is the budget for the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department.

“The biggest challenge we have right now is the sheriff’s budget,” Caton said. “We are trying to come up with some money to purchase some vehicles for his department because the way it sits right now, he is about $250,000 over his budget.”

In 2012, the commission approved a balanced budget of about $15.5 million.

Chilton County Sheriff Kevin Davis said on Thursday his overall budget of $3.4 million covers two separate budgets, a jail budget and the sheriff’s department budget.

“People are always told the sheriff and the road department get all of the money, but the reality is I get $3.4 million of about $16 million in the county,” Davis said. “The county has had budget cut after budget cut to the point that we are unable to operate without major cuts in our services.”

One of the current problems Davis faces in operating within his budget is maintaining a fleet of 30 vehicles with 24 of the vehicles having more than 100,000 miles.

According to Davis, 80 percent of the department’s vehicles are in “bad shape” causing Davis concern for the safety of his officers and the reliability of the vehicles in emergency situations.

“The Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) deems a vehicle unsafe after 100,000 miles,” Davis said. “The reason is that vehicle needs to be reliable. If your home is being broken into, that vehicle doesn’t need to be broken down while that officer is trying to get to that call. I have a lot of cars that need to be replaced and there just isn’t money to do that right now.”

Davis is currently working on his budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year to submit to the commission and fears his department is at a crossroads with funding.

Caton said the commission is trying to come up with some money to purchase vehicles for the sheriff’s department.

“The way it sits right now is the sheriff is about $250,000 over his budget.”

Within the last few months, Davis said he has laid off three kitchen employees at the jail and one employee from his office staff to avoid laying off some of his deputies.

“I am cutting everywhere I can cut,” Davis said. “I am not willing to take deputies off of the road at night. I am trying to make the budget work to make things happen but my only concern is there may be enough money to continue but there is no money for vehicles or anything like that. I may have employees but there will be no transportation because there is no money to replace the vehicles.”

Davis said he would like to see each department head within the county that is affected by the county budget to sit down with a plan.

“I think it would be great if we could all come together with a plan so it isn’t the same thing each year,” Davis said. “If we are going to cut services, then we can all sit down together and figure out what will be cut. The people of the county elect us to make decisions for the county, and it would help if we could all sit down together and discuss these things.”

The commission will continue its discussion of the budget on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in the commission chamber at the Chilton County Courthouse.

The commission will also meet during a regularly scheduled meeting Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.