Agencies concerned about lack of funds

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 14, 2001

Staff Writer

The budget passed by the Pike County Commission Thursday night is significantly less than the one adopted just over a year ago.

Commissioners approved an $8.887 million budget, which is more than $2.7 million less than what was budgeted for the fiscal year that just ended.

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Although many departments will see cuts, employees will not lose the 3 percent step raise they are entitled upon their anniversary date.

But, all outside agencies except the South Central Alabama Development Commission have been cut from the budget and will only get funding as money becomes available, the commission decided Thursday night.

Commissioners acknowledged their struggle over passing a budget that did not provide funding to agencies like USDA/Soil and Water, Wiregrass RC&D, Watershed Management Authority, the Alabama Forestry Commission, Pike County Health Department, East Central Mental Health-Mental Retardation, RSVP, the nutrition center, Organized Community Action Program, Pike Library Cooperative, the Pike County Chamber of Commerce and the Auburn Extension Service.

Margaret Stewart, director of the Troy Public Library which is half of the Pike Library Cooperative, said her facility and the library in Brundidge stand to lose a total of $30,000 in state funding because of the commission’s cuts.

The money from the Alabama Public Library Service requires a match and they will not have what it will take to cover it, Stewart said.

She also mentioned the motion to provide funding as it’s available will not help the libraries because their cutoff is Oct. 26.

During the 2000-2001 fiscal year, the county commission allocated $89,268 to those same agencies.

A large chunk of the money budgeted ­ $880,416.91 ­ will go to the Pike County Sheriff’s Department.

That amount is very different from the $1.6 million budgeted for this past fiscal year.

Sheriff Russell Thomas said, late Friday, he had not seen his budget and could not comment on the cuts.

Another $4,020 will also go into combating illegal activities through the Drug Task Force.

The second largest allotment will go to the County Commission Office. More than $680,583 was budgeted for those office operations, including salaries.

Probate Judge Bill Stone’s office will receive just over $287,636, which is a little less than the $292,587 budgeted for the 2000-2001 fiscal year.

The Revenue Commission office budget includes $258,557, an increase over last year ­ $234,159.

Commission Chairman Willie Thomas said the budget is something everyone will "have to live with" until more money is available.

This past year, $11.6 million was budgeted during the next fiscal year, a 2.84 percent reduction from the previous year.

"There are things the commission would like to do, but we have to live within our financial means," Thomas said.

Thomas said "a lot of unexpected things," such as the courthouse renovations, including the move to the former Wal-Mart building, cost more than the county anticipated.

He also said the county has had a "cash flow problem" the last three months of the 2000-2001 fiscal year, which translated into no money remaining in the coffers.

In August, the commission was forced to borrow $410,000 to pay bills before the end of the fiscal year.