Augusta departments line up for funding requests in tight times

The down economy and a tight Augusta budget don’t mean the workload is slowing – especially for one elected official.

 

Richmond County Coroner Grover Tuten says the average of 54 death certificates he and deputy coroners Johnny McDonald and Mark Bowen file every week means sometimes making families wait hours with their loved one for a coroner to arrive.

“We’re a 24/7 agency,” Tuten said. “Our population is aging; our workload is increasing.”

So, Tuten says he’s repeating his request for a fourth coroner – for the third year running.

He is not alone. In all, despite urging to keep budgets flat, 20
departments are requesting either additional personnel or promotions for existing staff in the 2012 budget now being formulated.

Among those requesting additional personnel in next year’s budget are the city’s procurement, law, human resources, district attorney, clerk of civil and magistrate courts, juvenile court, public defender, disadvantaged business and equal employment opportunity offices.

Asking to reclassify personnel or reorganize and reclassify include the city’s information technology, tax assessor, animal services, circuit court, state court solicitor, victims’ assistance, engineering, housing and community development, utilities and solid waste departments.

All are expected to discuss their requests during a daylong budget workshop that begins at 9 a.m. today.

Russell said that in evaluating each request, he’ll take unfunded mandates and need into account, but some will be denied.

“They all feel like they have good arguments,” Russell said. “Sometimes, we just can’t afford them.”

Balancing out the increases, perhaps, are the results of afternoon meetings on potential outsourcing of department functions and downsizing fleets.

Starting at 1:30 p.m., the city’s finance, procurement, human resources, license and inspections, roads and walkways, recreation and facilities and solid waste departments will discuss ways to save by outsourcing duties.

At 4 p.m., Russell is meeting with the tax assessor, license and inspections department, engineering, recreation, solid waste and utilities departments about streamlining or consolidating each department’s fleet of vehicles and heavy machinery.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham said he’ll attend as much of the workshop as time allows.

“I’m more in line to look and see what we can outsource,” Brigham said. “The commission is about adjusting the cost of operations right now.”

IF YOU GO

Budget workshop, 9 a.m. to noon, 1:30-5 p.m., eighth-floor committee room, 530 Greene St.

LIVE UPDATES

Follow Susan McCord’s live tweets from the meeting on Twitter @reportr1 or augustachronicle.com.

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