Archived Story

Commission sticks to bare bones budget

Published 3:47pm Monday, August 18, 2014

Morgan County commissioners refused to budge from pursuing a level-funded budget for next fiscal year after hearing requests for more money from two non-profit organizations at a budget review meeting on Aug. 12.

Morgan County Child Advocacy Center requested that the $6,500 it received in FY2014 be increased to $10,000 while Wheeler Basin Regional Library in Decatur sought a $40,000 increase, bringing its appropriation to $119,200.

Six other agencies sought increases, but they did not ask to meet with the commission to plead their cases. They were Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama, $15,000; Princess Theatre, $7,500; Foster Grandparents, $7,500; E-911, $5,006.60; Carnegie Visual Arts Center, $2,500; and Falkville Public library, $800.

In addition, a first time request of $5,000 was submitted by the Decatur City Schools Foundation.

“We have 2.96 employees with a budget of $174,000 and received requests for 1,201 services last year,” said Susan Goggan, Advocacy Center director. “We hope to have enough money in our budget to hire another full-time worker next year.”

Goggan said an increase in requests for services has placed a burden on the center’s small staff and has resulted in clients having to wait longer to get help.

Wheeler Basin Library director Sandra McCandless said the library would be forced to curtail services if the money it has to operate with continues to drop.

“I don’t see how we can continue to keep our services where they need to be without more money even though we received a $30,000 increase from the City of Decatur,” she said. “It’s frustrating because we do so much for our patrons.”

The commissioners agreed to keep non-profits at level funding with the exceptions of E-911 whose annual appropriation is based on the number of calls it receives in the prior year.

“Our money is not going to be up next year,” said Chairman Ray Long. “We expect less revenue from TVA, ad valorem tax and court fees. We don’t want to overspend. We have already committed to reach into our reserve to fund a two percent COLA for our employees. They deserve it because they have stepped up and made sure they stayed at or under their budget.”

As an option, the commissioners agreed to allow employees to reduce their hours from 40 to 32 in the coming fiscal year while retaining all of their benefits.

Proposed budgets for Community Relations, Courthouse Maintenance, TVA and Juvenile Probation reviewed with no changes from a year ago.

Departmental budget reviews will resume after the next regular commission meeting.

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