Funding outside agencies focus of budget talks

ALBANY -- In a continued effort to cut the Dougherty County Commission's operating budget, County Administrator Richard Crowdis recommended Wednesday cutting the levels of funding that the county gives to outside agencies.

The Dougherty County Board of Health, the Department of Family and Children's Services and the Albany Area Community Service Board would all see their funding cut by 3.5 percent under the recommendation.

Crowdis told the three commissioners who sit on the board's finance committee that the county's health department is one of the better funded offices of its type in the state when comparing communities of similar size.

Under his recommendation, the county's $1,493,358 subsidy would be cut to $1,441,093.

Crowdis also said that he has been told the state has given the health department notice that it intends to cut its portion of funding back in the coming years as well.

"It's a difficult situation, but Dougherty County has been providing a good portion of their budget for a long time," Crowdis said.

At least one program that Crowdis didn't recommend cutting -- the county's share of funding for the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission -- was questioned by commissioners.

Currently, the county is one of three sources of revenue for the EDC. The city, county and Albany Area Chamber of Commerce each pay $250,000 per year to fund the organization.

"Is it worth the level of funding we're putting into it?" Commissioner John Hayes asked. "Are we getting a good return on our money?"

Commissioner Ewell Lyle said that he understood that if the county didn't pay the $250,000 that it would lose voting power on the board, but also asked whether that was a bad thing.

"Is not having a seat at the table really that big of a deal given our budget situation?" Lyle asked.

Crowdis also finished going over the county's general fund budget, including that of the Dougherty County Jail, which is roughly 30 percent of the county's budget, or $13.5 million.

That budget is expected to increase by 2.47 percent, but will be partially offset by $1.8 million in revenues generated by the commissary at the jail and fees such as those for use of the phones and out-of-state warrant service.

The county's judicial budget, which is 23.9 percent of the total budget, shrank by 1.9 percent to $10.4 million, while the county's public works department has trimmed 3.9 percent off its budget to come in just over $2.8 million.