County must cut its budget $2 million
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
The Morgan County Commission is proposing $458,250 in cuts from the originally proposed 2005 General Fund budget and is searching for an additional $2 million in savings.
Commissioners met twice last week. After commissioners examined each department request line by line, it was decided to send individual budgets back and ask department heads to decrease them an additional 10 percent after the commission's proposed cuts.
"Let's make it clear we're looking for a $2 million cut," Chairman Larry Bennich said.
The commission will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. to review the requested cuts and attempt to finalize the $19.2 million budget.
District 2 Commissioner John Glasscock said the commission has worked hard to balance this year's budget and hopes to accomplish the task by Oct. 1.
"We're doing all we can to maintain level funding for each department and community agency from last year's budget," Glasscock explained. "However, we also have a new $1.5 million bond payment for the new jail we had to slide in there."
Glasscock said though he has been pleased with the overall process of examining the budget, he has strong feelings about a few of the proposed cuts discussed by the commission.
With a $109,000 allocation for temporary help in License Commissioner Sue Baker Roan's office budget, District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark and District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher suggested Roan hire two to four full-time employees instead of maintaining 16 current temporary workers.
"I have a problem with that for several reasons," Glasscock said. " To take away her temporary help without talking to her might not be in the best interest of the people of Morgan County. Mrs. Roan always comes in under budget and does a wonderful job with her department. I hope we can meet with her again before a decision is made."
Another imminent department cut Glasscock fought was a $130,000 pay upgrade for county deputies after a $100,000 cut had already been proposed for the department.
"Not many of us would be willing to put on a vest and do what they do everyday," Glasscock said. "It was decided to leave the pay increase in the budget, and that's something I'm very thankful for."
Proposed cuts agreed upon by the commission include:
Glasscock said the commission would look at the budget as a whole again Thursday including funding requests from community agencies like the ARC, Volunteer Center and Community Free Clinic.
"Each of these programs is worthwhile and I wish we could help them all," Glasscock said.
While the commission has recommended many community agencies receive level funding in the 2005 budget, the commission did not recommend level or new funding for the following agencies: