City picks method of handling state cuts

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2008

FRANKLIN-The City Council on Monday chose to adopt the &uot;Election of State Reductions In Aid to Localities&uot; by reducing the programs by the state-calculated reductions for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

In order for services to continue as they are, localities would have to make up shortfalls in state funding for the state Board of Elections; the Compensation Board (commissioners of the revenue and treasurers); the library; non-categorical aid (rolling stock and recordation taxes); Comprehensive Services for at-risk youth and families; aid to local police departments; and alternative aid for Juvenile Justice.

Last week, Mayor Jim Councill said that Comprehensive Services and Juvenile Justice are required programs.

For the city, the amount of cuts totals about $40,000 each year. There are three options for handling the reductions.

One choice is to make the reductions out of one or more of the programs listed and schedule payments for them or reimbursements will be reduced by elected amounts; the second is to make a reimbursement payment directly to the Commonwealth for all of the locality’s reductions, which would be due Jan. 9, 2009; or the third option, which entails a combination of program reductions and reimbursement payments.

The Virginia Municipal League had recommended, in order to make a point, to not take the cuts, write a check out to the state in the amount of the total cuts, and let the public know about the issue.

According to Finance Director Andy Rose, while the state left it up to the localities of where to cut, they also &uot;increased salaries by 2 percent in categories (where) they’re asking us to cut.&uot; He also noted that just about half of the total, nearly $20,000, was aid to the police department.

Rose said that the library wasn’t figured in because &uot;we don't get that money anyway.&uot; The library is funded directly from the state.

He recommended approving the &uot;Election.&uot; Interim City Manager June Fleming said, &uot;I concur with (Rose's) recommendation. We looked at it item by item.

&uot;We could see this coming, and made considerations for it in the budget.&uot;

Councilman Barry Cheatham asked Rose, &uot;What would be the advantage of paying the money?&uot;

Rose said, &uot;It would just make a political statement. I don't think it would make that big of a statement.&uot; He also said Franklin was fortunate, as larger cities received larger cuts.

The vote to approve the staff’s recommendation was unanimous. Mayor Jim Councill was not in attendance.