— Athens City Council members have decided to withhold funding for the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program in Athens until city officials can review audits of the agency’s books. They also tabled action until mid-year on requests for funding on two unrelated historical projects simply because of the timing. The council approved funding for 22 other city and county entities during their regular meeting Monday.
The council also acknowledged it had a $1.4 million surplus for fiscal 2012-13, compared to $1.1 million in 2011-12 and $900,000 in $2010-11. The council agreed to amend the fiscal 2012-13 budget to add $500,000 in capital spending on equipment and other items; a $200,000 previous commitment to Calhoun Community College Robotics Technology Park, $200,000 for insurance liability, and $48,000 to extend Wilkerson Street for industrial development. It also added $43,000 to cover rent of the Athens Utilities building.
Part of the surplus may also be spent to create an equipment lease/own program for streets and sanitation departments, which the council will discuss in January.
The council also agreed Monday to postpone funding for two historic projects for consideration later next year and to reduce funding for some nonprofit groups or agencies that had requested money this year.
The council is the second body to delay funding for RSVP in the past 20 days until receiving more information. The United Way of Athens board of directors voted Nov. 28 to withhold funding, citing liability concerns found in the RSVP’s audited statements and the need for more oversight in the agency’s operation, programs and services.
City Council members had received a $10,000 request from RSVP for funding for transportation for 2012-13 but they decided to table action on RSVP as well as funding for two historic projects. However, timing appeared to be the only issue with the historic preservation projects. Mayor Council President Harold Wales said the council was withholding funding for RSVP in response to the action taken by the United Way and until the city could review the RSVP audits. The city of Athens provided $1,600 in funding for RSVP in 2012.
Ronnie Marks said the council would address funding for the renovation of Beaty-Mason Home at Athens State University and the Fort Henderson/Trinity School project “as it comes up.” Work on Beaty-Mason is already under way, while the Fort Henderson/Trinity School project is still amid fundraising.
RSVP and other officials submitted their annual requests for money for fiscal 2012-13, which began Oct. 1. However, the council had delayed until now a vote, in part, because some groups did not complete the required financial information but also because the council added three new members in November who needed a little more time to review the budget requests. Chief Financial Officer Annette Barnes said she had to request complete documents from a few agencies and they did comply.
Councilman Jimmy Gill said that in the future he would like to see those who request appropriations submit a quarterly update on how they are spending their money. The rest of the council concurred.
Councilman Wayne Harper said the council should require these agencies to comply with the same rules required of city departments — quarterly reports.
An RSVP financial statement supplied by United Way for fiscal 2010-2011, shows the agency received a total of $243,715 in funding from various sources, including $165,643 in federal funding, $40,409 in in-kind contributions, $19,000 from United Way and $18,662 in state funding.
Funding for others OK
The following five governmental and 17 non-governmental entities will receive this funding for the fiscal year:
• Limestone Public Library — $115,000 for operations, $2,000 for maintenance;
• Houston Memorial Library — $16,000 for operations, $10,000 for maintenance;
• Healthcare Authority of Athens & Limestone County — $28,000 to transport kidney-dialysis patients;
• Limestone County Commission — $25,000 to help with funding for Cowford Campgrounds;
• Limestone County HAZMAT — $6,000 to help with funding of hazardous materials response activities;
• Limestone County Council on Aging — $10,000 for transportation services for the elderly;
• Alabama Silver Haired Legislature — $500 for planning, establishment, furnishing of recreational and social and cultural activities for the elderly;
• Boys & Girls Club of North Alabama — $20,000 for programs and services for the city’s youth;
• ARC of Alabama Inc. (Athens/Limestone ARC) — $6,000 for programs and facilities for citizens with cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities;
• Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association Inc. — $87,000 for economic and industrial development;
• Athens Limestone County Beautification Board — $2,000 for maintaining and improving health and cleanliness of city;
• Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful — $20,000 for maintaining improving health and cleanliness of city;
• American Red Cross — $1,000 for public health work in the city within Limestone County;
• Spay and Neuter Program (SNYP) — up to $4,500 to sterilize cats and dogs in Limestone County;
• Athens-Limestone County Family Resource Center — $20,000 to assist in funding educational, recreational and social service activities for citizens;
• Athens-Limestone Learn-To-Read — $8,000 for educational activities;
• Spirit of Athens Inc. — $18,000 for promoting the economic and industrial development of the city;
• Athens Veterans Museum — $4,000;
• Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama Inc. — $10,000;
• Athens/Limestone Children’s Advocacy Center Inc. — $10,000;
• Athens Recycling Center — $48,000;
• Office of the Mayor — $20,000 for special events that benefits the citizens (at the discretion of the mayor).