RiverQuarium seeks county funding - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

RiverQuarium seeks county funding

Posted: Updated:

May 19, 2008

Albany, GA (WALB) - Like their city counterparts, Dougherty County Commissioners will have to dip into reserves to balance next year's budget. The proposed budget of $47.4 Million  is three quarters of a million dollars higher than last year's, but $3.8 Million must be transferred from reserves to keep taxes from going up.

In these tough economic times the Dougherty County Commission is pinching pennies. Twelve new positions have been requested by department heads, including District Attorney Ken Hodges, but currently only three are under consideration for funding. "We want to do the best we can and yet be very wise and good stewards," said commissioner Lamar Hudgins.

One large component of the proposed budget increase, nearly $600,000, will go to merit raises for full-time employees. Another $360,000 is expected to go to increased health insurance premiums.

And the Flint Riverquarium is asking for $300,000 from the county to help them operate and grow to be self-sustaining. The county gave the Riverquarium $250,000 last year and the city provided $300,000.

"We'd like to be further along. We have, in fact, stabilized the operation, that's the first step in the process," said Scott Loehr, Riverquarium CEO. "We are, in fact, making a turn. By not asking for more it does show the Riverquarium has stabilized its finances and is moving forward with its growth plan in the near future."

In the current proposed budget, the Flint Riverquarium is set to receive $250,000 in funding. Meanwhile the District Attorney and Coroners requests have not been funded.

"How can you say 'yes' to something like the Riverquarium and then say 'no' to the District Attorney to providing another attorney?" asked reporter Karen Cohilas.

"That's a good question and we haven't said no yet," said Hudgins. 

The finance committee continues meetings with department heads later this week to hear their requests and make changes to the proposed budget. The county budget must be adopted by June 30th. The full commission will be presented with the first draft of the proposed budget, as recommended by the finance committee, next Wednesday.

comments: news@walb.com?subject=CountyBudgetKCC-5/19