Budget decisions expected

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- There might soon be a little more Albany in Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful.

The city expects to vote tonight on whether to accept the county's request to assume 50 percent of the funding obligations of the agency.

The request, which amounts to nearly $89,000 per year, comes as the county looks to find ways to fund other projects deemed worthy by commissioners, like the James H. Gray Senior Citizens Center or the Flint RiverQuarium.

Should the city decide not to join the venture, the county would likely cut the entity's budget to still partially fund the other projects.

At Monday's Dougherty County Commission meeting, commissioners heard from Jeanette Henderson, chair of the KADB board, who asked the board to avoid cutting the KADB budget saying that the board has saved local governments considerable money through the work of its volunteers.

Henderson said the KADB has saved local governments $14 million in manhours through the tons of that volunteers haul away.

"We would just ask that you find some way to keep the funding for this agency intact," she said. "There is a vital need for it in the community."

In discussions following the comments by Henderson, Flint RiverQuarium Executive Director Scott Loehr and Mary Bloom -- a person who asked the commission to fund between $10,000 and $20,000 to the Senior Center -- commissioners offered comments showing a sharp divide in what programs to fund and what programs to cut.

"I think I've been looked at as a villain since this thing started," Commissioner Jack Stone, who first broached the subject of stripping KADB funding weeks ago, said. "I have nothing in the world against Keep Albany Beautiful, but then again, I look at the RiverQuarium and, when you look at the future of the city and county, as being the best thing Dougherty County has....we can't look at funding one person 100 percent and let another program go down the drain."

Commissioner Muarlean Edwards, who has become an advocate on the board for funding the senior center, said that some level of funding should go to the seniors in the community.

"If we cannot fund them completely then I'd like for us to consider some level of funding," Edwards said. "These people need a place where they can go and learn and stay out of the heat."

Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said that KADB performed a vital service to the community.

"Between the Dougherty County Sheriff's Department, the county police and Keep Albany Dougherty Beautiful, we have a lot of people in this town who work hard to keep trash picked up off the streets," Sinyard said. "We have to keep that going if we want to make strides towards progress."

The city commission is expected to discuss the agenda item on KADB tonight and vote on it. Depending how that vote goes, the county will make a follow-up vote next Monday on whether to cut funding to KADB.

Also in play as an incentive is the county's discount to the city for commercial and demolition waste it takes to the landfill. The city is currently the county's biggest customer. The county has extended them a discount rate, from $34.25 to a flat $25.

That number could save the city a considerable amount of money as they prepare to demolish the Heritage House hotel on West Oglethorpe.