County council cuts funding for two agencies


The Jackson County Council approved a budget for 2020 that includes a 3% pay increase for county employees, council members and commissioners during a meeting Wednesday

Council members voted unanimously in favor of the $12,280,322 budget that also adds another security officer at the Jackson County Judicial Center and a jail officer at the Jackson County Jail, both in Brownstown.

Two items left out of the budget was the funding for The ARC of Jackson County and Thrive Alliance.

The ARC of Jackson County, which usually receives $31,500 from the county, serves people and families with developmental disabilities, while Thrive Alliance serves the county’s elderly population. That agency usually receives $16,100.

The county has supported both agencies since at least 2011, which is as far back as online budget records go.

Council President Dave Hall said only $12,000 was left in the budget after the council had funded its responsibilities.

“You have to draw a line on what our absolute needs are and what we want to do,” he said. “It’s a tough decision to make when you have to cut something.”

Hall said pay raises for county employees totaled between $180,000 and $200,000.

In recent years, the county approved raises for Jackson County Emergency Medical Services and sheriff’s department deputies in an effort to be more competitive, Hall said. That has impacted the county’s decisions in funding other projects, he said.

“When we do those increases, we create this snowball in personnel costs and that snowball gains so much more volume when we want to do a 3% increase,” he said. “The wiggle room that we have to work with for our budget, it gets smaller every year.”

Health insurance costs also factor into the budget, especially when adding new employees, Hall added.

“We didn’t do anything extravagant this year,” he said. “We delayed adding court security last year, because we didn’t know how it was going to work out.”

Jim Shepard, president of the board of The ARC of Jackson County, said half of the organization’s funding comes from the county’s contribution.

He said the agency will be able to provide services for another year but expects to cut those services after that time if more funding doesn’t come through.

Shepard said The ARC’s costs could be offset by grants, fundraisers and other sources of income if board members are active in pursuing those sources.

“In the past, the county’s funding allowed us to expand what we are able to do,” he said.

Some ARC-sponsored events attract 100 or more people and the agency works with the local school systems.

The ARC offers social events and programs for clients, provides grants to those who work with people with developmental disabilities and more. It also provided initial funding for Project Life Saver, which helps locate individuals with cognitive disorders who wander and get lost.

The agency also has plans to fund handicap-accessible playground equipment, but those efforts may be delayed due to the cut in funding, Shepard said.

Hall said he hopes people from the community will come together to support each organization.

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