SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — The Jackson County Commission finalized its budget, but it comes with two sides — a double-edged sword of sorts.
For years, the Jackson County Commission has been making cuts and changes to combat a near $2 million budget deficit. It proposed a one cent sales tax increase, but that was voted down.
With the finalized budget, the deficit is gone. “For the first time since we’ve been in office, we passed a positive balanced general fund budget, so a non deficit budget,” Commission Chair Matthew Hodges explains.
However, in order to balance the budget, the commission had to make cuts. “Like we’ve talked about before, the cuts to the courthouse closures, the appropriation cuts, everything else that we’ve done, with all the cuts that we’ve made, we now have the balanced budget,” Hodges says.
Appropriations — money or assistance given to organizations — is cut out. That includes libraries, fire departments, and rescue squads.
The commission is also changing the courthouse hours.
“The courthouse will be closed on Fridays, the hours during the week have been changed from 7:30 to five for the time being,” Hodges says.
County employees paid through the general fund will see a ten percent pay cut.
The county will also prioritize which roads will be maintained as paved roads.
“Ultimately, as we go through this process, there will be roads that have to go back to dirt because they can’t be maintained,” Hodges explained.
There are cuts to the sheriff’s office, which is already operating understaffed.
Commissioners say making the cuts was not ideal, but necessary.
Throughout all of this commissioners are looking for additional sources of revenue, and say they do have several ideas but ultimately those ideas would have to go through the legislature. “We’re considering right now what kind of proposal we want to take to the legislature to pursue,” Hodges says.
Commissioners say they’ll continue to manage the system as best as they can to try to provide as many services as possible, with the limited funds they have.
Most of the cuts go into effect October 5.