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Concern over funding request

Features Editor

Once again, the Pike County Commission refused to act on a request for additional funding by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce in order to meet its marketing needs.

At its Monday meeting, the commission voted to carry forward the chamber’s request to up its funding from zero in this fiscal year to $40,000 in next year’s budget.

"Honest to gosh – to tell the truth, we’re trying to get up the money," said Commissioner Larry Meeks in explaining the commissions failure to respond to the request for a second time.

"Right now, money is tight and we have so many other obligations," Meeks said. "It’s not a question of whether we want to do it or not. It’s just that the money isn’t in the budget. Recently, we’ve spent money on needs only and on no wants. Some of the needs have not been met. We can’t spend money we don’t have."

Meeks said there are other agencies in the county that look to the county commission for financial support.

"We are trying to see how much we can give – to all of the agencies – and live within our means," he said.

Harry Sanders, county administrator, said some commissioners have expressed concern about funding one agency and not being able to fund the other agencies that have historically been funded by the commission.

"They don’t want to send the message that they are looking to fund one agency and not fund the others," Sanders said. "They want to look at how much money they might be able to obligate to all agencies. They are trying to find options that would allow funding to all agencies. They want to look at the possibilities."

Sanders said the county’s budget has not changed since September and, at that time, there was no allocation of funds to the 11 agencies previously funded by the commission because no funds were available."

"There has been concern about the lack of funding to these agencies, especially the 4-H program," Sanders said. "It is regrettable that the county didn’t have the funds to support these agencies.

The chamber is not standing and knocking at the commission’s door alone. The state of Alabama is also asking the county commission for a helping hand.

The state has requested that the Pike County Chamber of Commerce toss $350,000 into Project BEACH to help fund industrial incentive programs in Alabama.

"The comments I’ve heard on that are that we need to take care of business at home first," Sanders said.

With so many coming to the well, the Pike County Commission is going to have to consider all options and what will ultimately be the best for Pike County, Sanders said.