Jackson Co. Commission wants residents to know how taxpayer dollars are spent in light of budget shortfall

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. -- The Jackson County Commission is fielding questions from taxpayers as to how exactly their dollars are spent, and commissioners say they want residents to understand the answer.

In dealing with a budget shortfall, commissioners discussed finding new revenue sources, but residents want to know where their dollars are going.

The commission had to decrease spending and make cuts -- nearly $2 million worth over recent years.

"It's put a hardship on a lot of folks, but of course, the need to stay within our revenues was there so those cuts had to be made. Thankfully we've been able to do it. We have a good staff in place that has been able to find ways to cut the budget as much as possible and keep us funded within the revenues that we do receive," Commission Chair Matthew Hodges says.

Commissioners say the goal is to use the available dollars as efficiently as possible.

"We've done a lot of changes throughout our system to try to be more efficient in the way that we do business," Hodges says.

He says examples of that include a new approach to roadside maintenance that is saving the county thousands of dollars and a revised staffing plan that didn't fill vacated positions. The county also made technological upgrades throughout county buildings that are cost efficient.

Hodges says, aside from revised day-to-day spending, the commission is working to spend where it counts -- on investments in the county's future, quality of life and health issues.

"A lot of folks in this county still don't have public water. They're living off of a well and in a lot of cases those wells are not fit to drink," Hodges says. So the commission is making public water availability a priority across the county.

"One thing that we also tried to do is, as far as a new revenue source, is find ways that we can invest dollars and see a return on those dollars in the future," Hodges explains. Hodges says the County Park improvement project is an example of that.

With additions that include cabin rentals, the income brought in from the park's use will pay for the improvements and can eventually be used in the general fund to further the county's future.

Hodges says this overall manner of spending needs to continue to be as efficient as possible, so the available dollars spent are spent where it counts.

Commissioners hold community meetings, post information on social media and make meetings available online. County officials say residents are welcome to schedule a time to meet with a Commissioner, or call the Commission Office with any questions.