The Dade Commission recently held a public hearing to discuss concerns over the proposed budget for fiscal year 2022. The fiscal budget year of 2022 starts in July, every year.

During the public hearing, as with all yearly budget discussions, the tax-paying public was notified and welcome to attend, with questions of where their yearly tax dollars are spent.

Zero members of the public attended last weeks hearing.

This years budget is proposed at $13,116,400.00 currently the revenue is proposed at $12,150,000.00 leaving a shortfall of $966,400.00

In attendance were the various department heads and elected officials to make their various requests for more expenditures in their respected offices. If you would like to see the proposed fiscal 2022 budget, it can be found here (proposed budget subject to change before June 24): FY-2022 Budget Summary

The major request, regardless of department, was an increase in salary for employees. Dade County government worker salary is becoming less competitive than the starting pay at local fast food restaurants, Captain Joe Chambers mentioned.

To start the requests, DFCS Director stated that they were running by appointment only between Walker and Dade County. To note, DFCS is slated to only receive $55,200 for the entirety of 2022. She requested enough to provide benefits to their employees.

Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Kevin Baugh asked for an increase in budget of $13,000 for the following: increase in attorney salary, supplement for staff and ADAs, coverage of back log that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, an attorney to handle appeals, and an update to their social media presence. Mr. Baugh stated that they had lost 3 attorneys to neighboring judicial circuits that provide additional supplements and benefits.

Public Defender Jad Johnson also asked for an increased budget; but only to increase personnel for the Public Defense office. Mr. Johnson states that he had two attorneys “poached” by the District Attorney’s office, who are currently able pay their attorneys better rates.

Lisa Eubanks, representing the Dade County Public Library, asked for a $2,000 increase only. She reminded the Commissioners that the library is funded 100% by local taxes. She wishes to hire and provide benefits for a Youth Education Coordinator; as well as be able to open the library 40 hours per week. Dade County is the only public library in the region that is open less than 40 hours per week.

Major Barry Irwin, representing the Sheriff’s Office asked for  increases to the $2.4 million yearly budget. Major Irwin cited needs for the increase in cost of group insurance, increases in payroll, fleet and repair maintenance, and the hiring of more part-time employees.

He reminded the Commission that they were able to increase their number of School Resource Officers to 4 because 50% of the SROs salary is paid for by the Dade County Schoolboard and is therefore not the responsibility of the Sherriff’s Office.

Captain Joe Chambers stated the Dade County Jail is right in-line and will possibly come in under budget. He stated the labor provided, at no cost to the county, by the inmates of the jail (transfer station attending, mowing the grass around the county, and cleaning up after various sports events) is a necessary service provided by the jail’s inmates.

Tax Commissioner Angie Galloway has voluntarily decreased their budget for the second year in a row.

Mr. William Back, Director of the Industrial Complex, appeared as himself on behalf of the Alliance for Dade and gave George Williams, head of Volunteers for the Alliance, the floor. Mr. Williams asked for a base of $10,000 from the county and matching membership by up to $15,000 to hire an Executive Director for the Alliance. Mr. Back mentioned that he was willing to voluntarily remove himself from the county insurance plan (saving the county an estimated $8,500 – $9,000), in order to provide the funds for the Alliance. Board Chairman County Executive Rumley stated the Alliance must provide the county with a contract that specifies numerically what the Alliance would provide in benefits to the tax-payers of Dade County.

The meeting concluded as Chairman Rumley reminded that the meeting to vote on the proposed the Fiscal Year 2022 will be held Thursday, June 24th at 5:00 pm at the Commission Building.

By Orey Yates

Watch the Public hearing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym7rb7HzD7w