Conservation board questions county supervisors’ proposed budget adjustment
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
A special work session held on Wednesday night by the Henry County Conservation Board left members of the board seeking answers, which they hope to receive at a joint meeting with county supervisors today (Thursday).
Meeting as a group on Wednesday night, Henry County Conservation Director, John Pullis, reviewed with the board a possible reformatting of the department’s budget, which he says is deeply concerning.
“Basically, since we have submitted our budget to the county supervisors for approval, they have come back and said they would like to restructure our budget. The supervisors say they are fine with the dollars and cents aspect of our budget, but want to restructure the way it is set up in order to ‘streamline’ the budget,” said Pullis.
Pullis claims the proposed budget restructure would eliminate the Henry County Conservation Department’s ability to track how all revenue associated with the Henry County Conservation Department’s cabins, campgrounds and shelter houses are used by putting revenue made from the cabins, campgrounds and shelter houses into a general fund. Similarly, Pullis also claims the proposed restructure would eliminate the Henry County Conservation Department’s ability to control how funds donated to the department by private persons for use within the department are used by also putting that money into a general fund.
“The way we are structured now, we are able to track revenue we make and pour it all back into the department’s cabins, campgrounds and shelter houses, etc. And I don’t know how that’s a bad thing,” said Pullis, saying the department itself is trying to be as efficient and sensible as possible with it’s funds. “The thing that really concerns me, though, is I don’t want to lose the ability to track and control how money donated to the department by individual donors is spent and used. I think, with this new proposed structure, we will lose those abilities.”
Board members agreed with Pullis, saying if their interpretation of this budget reconstruction is accurate, it could harm the department overall.
“If I am a donor to Henry County Conservation and I want to give a certain amount of my own money to, let’s say, the animals the county cares for, I want to know for sure that my money is being spent exactly for that purpose. And I think that’s a fair thing to ask for,” said board member Kat Zeglen. “If we as a department lose the ability to track that money for people, I think we are going to lose donations, and overall, lose revenue.”
Additionally, Pullis says that prior to submitting the department’s budget to the county supervisors, he had reached out to the state auditor for input on the budget and its structure. According to Pullis, the state auditor approved the structure of the budget that was sent to the supervisors.
“I guess what I want to know is if the state auditor was fine with the way we structured things, what purpose could the supervisors have for wanting to change it,” board member Tony Brown added. “I think that needs to be our first question to the supervisors, and see if there is a way we can find a budget structure that everyone is happy with that doesn’t have us losing control of how we track and use our department’s generated revenue and donated funds.”
Henry County Conservation Board will meet with the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Thursday, Jan. 26 (today), to discuss the issue in more depth.