|County facing one of ‘worst’ budgets |
|Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:24 pm |
As the end of the 2011-12 Fiscal Year comes to a close, the various county committees are meeting to discuss and determine the budget for the upcoming year.
HEED Committee chairman Jimmy Westbrook and W.C. Director of Finanace Shawn Fransisco
The Weakley County Health, Education, & Economic Development, or HEED, Committee met Friday to discuss budget transfers and vote on the 2012-13 Fiscal Year Budget. After some lengthy discussion, the committee finally passed each division of the proposed budget except for the Election Commission Division, which was tabled.
Commissioner David Hawks informed the public about what the committee had problems with regarding that division of the budget.
“The main sticking points that I see are 336, 349, and 399,” said Hawks. “Those are the three things that probably need to be tweaked.”
Line item 336 was Maintenance & Repair – Voting Equipment, which dealt with the proposed $9,000 increase for the purchase of new back-up batteries for the voting machines. Line item 349 was Printing & Forms, which dealt with the proposed $11,400 increase for printing including the extra provisional ballots that are expected to be used for the new Photo ID law.
Line item 399 was Other Contracted Services, which dealt with the proposed $4,375 increase for the technicians from Electronic Systems & Software. The technician would be on-site on Election Day in case there are problems that the county machine technician cannot solve.
The total proposed increase for the Election Commission budget is $59,611. County Commissioner and Chair of the HEED Committee Jim Westbrook spoke about his concerns regarding the entire proposed budget for the county.
“This is going to be the worst budget year that anyone on this committee besides me has ever seen,” said Westbrook.
“The schools are down, the highways are always down, and debt services are alright.”
Administrator of Elections Barbara Castleman was at the HEED Committee to represent the Election Commission, and to also explain the proposed budget.
“My job is to make sure that we have efficient election equipment,” said Castleman. “That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Castleman informed the committee that the ES&S technician was used during the previous election in March in place of the county inspectors since, according to Castleman, there were several problems with the election machines.
Also, according to Castleman, the Election Commission is expecting to print more absentee, or provisional, ballots this year because there is a change in the law that allows anyone over the age of 60 to vote without an ID. Previously the law required the voters to be over 65-years-old.
Commissioner Eric Owen inquired about the need of so many new back-up batteries for the voting machines. According to Castleman, the Election Commission has been encouraged to purchase new batteries in order to be prepared for Election Day. The current batteries have been installed since 2006.
The voting machines are operated while plugged up into the wall, but if the power were to go out, then the batteries would turn on immediately.
The committee approved the other sections of the proposed budget, including those under the Departments of Public Health/Welfare, Social, Cultural, and Recreation Services, Agricultural & Natural Resources, and Other General Government.
All of the Departments had divisions that called for proposed changed to the 2012-13 Fiscal Year Budget.
There was a $2,500 increase in the Public Health/Welfare: Maternal/Child Health Services Division for the Carl Perkins Center of Child Abuse, and a $32,101 decrease in the Public Health/Welfare: Health Center Division which was from losing a full-time position. There was a $18,924 increase in the Social, Cultural, and Recreation Services: Adult Activities (Dresden) Division for mostly salaries, insurance, travel expenses, and other supplies and materials.
The Social, Cultural, and Recreation Services: Senior Citizens Assistance (Sharon) Division called for a decrease in the budget of $130. The Social, Cultural, and Recreation Services: Libraries Division called for a $12,374 decrease in the proposed budget.
There was a $40 increase in the Agricultural & Natural Resources: Soil Conservation Services budget for medical insurance changes. There was also an increase for $727 in the Other General Government: Veterans’ Services Division for contracted services and office supplies.
The committee also approved budget transfer 1112-23 regarding the Weakley County Office on Aging and transfer 1112-25 regarding the Election Commission.