Committee Reviews Range Of Budget Proposals

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The Budget Committee of the Cannon County Commission met Thursday night at the courthouse to review a number of budget proposals from various agencies which provide services to citizens of the county.

First to appear before the committee was Penny Daniels, Veterans Services Officer for the Cannon County Veterans Service Office.

Daniels submitted a proposed budget of $13,958 for the fiscal year 2010-2011, an increase from the current fiscal year budget of $13,581. The major portion of the increase is $333 for travel and training.

Daniels said the office served 386 veterans from March 2009 through February 2010, and in addition answered 376 calls. She also reported there are over 1108 veterans who live in Cannon County and 169 receive Veterans Administration benefits which amounted to $858,538 during the fiscal year 2008-2009.

The budget committee next heard from Lisa Baird, director of Cannon County S.A.V.E., who is requesting $10,000 from the county to help fund the agency, which provides a variety of important services to victims of domestic violence.

S.A.V.E. has submitted a number of grant requests to the federal government, including one for legal assistance of $137,000 and another for a shelter of $49,000.

If the county approves S.A.V.E's funding request, the money would go toward insurance for the shelter, licensing and state fees, copy paper, ink cartridges and paper products and cleaning supplies.

Employees of the Cannon County UT Extension Office, lead by County Director Bruce Steelman, were the next to appear before the committee. The Extension Office is asking for a funding increase to $68,924.30 from $66,835.30. The increase represents a three percent salary supplement for each of the office's five employees.

The UT Extension Office provides services to local farmers, students and homemakers. Steelman told the committee that the county has seen an increase in agribusiness over the past few years.

The Cannon County Senior Center was the next agency to present its budget proposal to the committee. Director Connie Rigsby said the center serves an average of 165 seniors on a daily basis.

The Senior Center is requesting a contribution from the county for 2010-2011 of $15,000, up from $4,000 in 2009-2010. Senior Center board member Rita Cook said the money is needed to raise the center from Level II to Level III so that it can offer seniors more services, extend hours of operation and do minor repairs and maintenance. No increase in employee salaries is proposed.

Cannon County REACH, the afterschool program serving county children, was the final agency to present its budget Thursday night. REACH is projecting total revenue from grants of $268,000 for 2010-2011, with expenditures totaling the same.

The REACH budget was in the red $19,000 during the 2008-2009 fiscal year and is also projected to have a deficit at the end of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. County and REACH officials have said the $19,000 from the 2008-2009 fiscal year has been reimbursed to the County General Fund.

County Commissioner Kevin George said that the money REACH brings in through grants is a valuable asset to the county because it provides employment opportunities for approximately 25 people.

Dawson Carlton, a six-grader who is one of the students in the program at West Side, told the committee REACH has helped him improve his grades and also afforded him the chance to experience tutoring, as he has been working with Pre-K students.

All of the agencies which appeared before the committee Thursday receive building and office space from the county.

The budget committee will meet again next Thursday at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.
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