A budget proposal presented by Mayor Gene Zick eliminates donations to six organizations, with the Logan County Humane Society taking the biggest hit and losing the entire amount of $7,200 the city had been providing.
Zick said the city has been trying to reduce costs in as many ways as possible, but some things simply had to be cut for this budget.
“The council’s been saying all along we’re going to cut non-essentials,” Zick said. “When there is not as much revenue coming in and the council doesn’t pass on increases like the Logan Todd water increase, then something has to be cut.”
Zick scheduled workshops held over the last two weeks to give each city department a chance to present their budget to the council and to give the council a chance to look at each department’s budget and perhaps find places where expenses could be cut.
“This was a chance to ask questions and make suggestions,” Zick said.“They (the council) said nothing.”
In the proposal, Zick cut $17,273 from the annual donations portion of the budget, reducing spending in that area from $46,448 in 2010 to $29,175 in 2011.
At $7,200, the Humane Society will lose the most money if the cuts occur and those involved with the organization say they need that money.
“We have just achieved a no kill-status for our dogs at the shelter and have been working toward this goal for over 21 years,” said Gail Guiling, Humane Society board member, “We cannot accomplish this without the financial support of both the county government as well as the city. This recent proposal by the mayor of Russellville, if passed by the council, will set us back, which ultimately may result in the deaths of hundreds of animals.”
Guiling said she knew the city of Russellville had to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s dollars, but that the responsibility for its unwanted animal population also plays an important roll.
“A large portion of the animals that come into the shelter come from the city of Russellville,” Guiling said.
“We try to help out as much as we can,” Zick said. “I’d like to help them out, but I’ve got to help people first.”
Zick said it is his understanding of state law that the Logan County Fiscal Court is responsible for running the shelter.
“I’m in debt,” Zick said, “and the county has plenty of money.”
Guiling said that when the city cut the Humane Society’s budget in half in 2009, Judge/Executive Logan Chick and his court stepped up and subsidized part of that loss.
“But we are still operating on a shoestring budget having to take from our donations account to run the day-to-day operations of the shelter,” Guiling said.
Those donations are separate from governmental support and are supposed to be used to save the lives of animals. “These monies should only be used for rescue efforts and not paying the electric bill,” she explained. “We cannot keep our heads above water and do our jobs without the help of those we are working for.”
Other groups that would be affected if the proposed cuts are approved include the Russellville Arts Commission, Mayor’s Youth Council, Good Samaritan, Special Olympics, and St. Vincent DePaul.
Good Samaritan would lose $500 a year, and director Denise McDonald said that would hurt.
“Every little bit of money matters to us,” McDonald said. Good Samaritan gets no federal government funding and relies primarily on donations.
“For us, losing $500 is really bad,” McDonald said.
The Arts Commission received $3,000 from the city last year and stands to get nothing this year.
Darlene Gooch, who is on the Arts Commission board, said they knew it was coming and understands, but it will make it harder on the group.
“We won’t be able to do anything,” Gooch said. They had used the funding in previous years to host things like the Missoula Children’s Theater and other special events.
“We’ve just got to reduce costs,” Zick said
The first reading of the proposed budget will be on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. at Russellville City Hall.