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State budget cuts affect local offices

By Staff
Melissa Cason
Tough economic times mean budgets cuts for everyone from individual homes to the Alabama operational budget, meaning that local offices will be affected by budget cuts in some way.
Franklin County Circuit Clerk Anita Scott said she has already been informed that she will lose a part-time employee on October 1 because of the budget crisis, and more cuts are being considered.
"I really don't have anything in store except that I am going to lose a part-time employee," Scott said.
"A committee has been formed to look at things and decide what cuts should be made."
Scott said possible cuts include fewer jury trials and the payment of jurors for serving.
"We've had a cut on jury trials in the past but it was on civil jury trials not criminal trials," Scott said. "They are considering not paying jurors for the time they serve on the jury, but nothing has been decided at this point."
Scott said jurors are paid $10 per day and five cents per mile currently.
"Most people serve on a jury once or twice during a lifetime," Scott said.
She said her office has not been advised on any specific amounts at this time.
However, it's a different story upstairs in the District Attorney's Office. Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing has already been notified that his office is being cut more than $40,000 this year, making it tough for his office to operate.
Rushing said his budget will be $297,143 for the year, which is a 13 percent decrease, and more cuts may be coming in 2010.
"We were told they cut our budget so much this time so that they will not have to cut so much next year," Rushing said.
Rushing said the budget he receives from the state goes to operate his office and includes salaries of support personnel and investigators, office supplies, and the cost of trial preparation, which also includes expert witnesses.
"Right now, staff reduction won't be necessary," Rushing said.
The office has been saving money in case his budget was decreased in order to pay his staff members.
"The money that was set aside for tough economic times is dwindling fast," Rushing said. "We are using it for salaries so that we won't have to let anyone go."
Next year is another story, Rushing expects another decrease of five percent in 2010.
In an effort to save, Rushing said his office is cutting down on all non-essential travel such as his attending the District Attorney's Conference.
"I've already registered for the winter conference, but I will be paying for this summer's conference myself."
Rushing said his office will do everything they can to save money in order to keep personnel.
However, Rushing said that should the budget crisis deteriorate more, his office will continue working to prosecute cases.
"We are trying to cut expenses so that people relying on this office for a job won't be affected," Rushing said.