Chairman: Jackson Co. Commission Must Solve $1M Budget Deficit

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) -- The newly elected Jackson County Commission found a glaring problem with the financial situation they inherited from the previous commission. 

The county's budget is in the red with a deficit of more than one million dollars.

Commission chairman Matthew Hodges said they must make immediate spending cuts.

"I want to look at the little things first," Hodges said.

"Any place where we can look at that small cuts first, to bring that budget deficit in line."

Hodges became chairman in November after ten years as a member of the Scottsboro City Council--a decade of service that began when he was 19 years old.

The changes from the city of Scottsboro's budget to the county's was unexpected.

"It was pretty surprising to see that there was a deficit budgeted," he said.

Hodges said expenditures in recent years exceeded revenue by $600,000 to $1.2 million.

"You can't have expenditures exceeding your revenues in the budget that you pass.  It may happen from time to time and at the end of the year you may add some things to it but when you make a budget, that can't happen," he said.

The commission will address it from both sides, cutting spending and increasing revenue.

"There are some places that we maybe have not looked hard enough at things that should have been collected or maybe haven't been collected properly from our side" Hodges said.

The commission will look at budgets of the sheriff's office, probate office, and revenue commission, as those departments oversee and manage their own budgets, but the money for them comes from the county's overall budget.

Hodges did not point any blame at the previous commission, all of whom retired or failed to win reelection, but said it is the new commission's job to make things right.

"I'd love to have a balanced budget for the 2013-2014 year so we can start looking at the positive things we can do after that and start helping the communities and giving back to the different groups," he said.

"After we make that balance we'll really be able to push forward."