New budget has missed opportunities

Published 7:41 pm Friday, September 19, 2008

The efforts made by the Demopolis City Council to push across a vote for its 2008-09 budget with new additions that the members of the finance committee had not seen was a poor decision that was too hastily made.

Those revisions were made from funds appropriated for the Tombigbee EMS ambulance service, should the City of Linden and the Marengo County Commission also agree to pay its requested share.

That didn’t happen, so members of the Demopolis City Council who were not on the finance committee — along with mayor and finance committee member Cecil P. Williamson — found new ways to use the already-established expenditures.

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Sure, the council deserves credit for working quickly to find ways to spend the already-appropriated funds. Giving some of that money to city employees is an easy way to make a bad decision popular.

Unfortunately, this council seems to have already given up on assisting Tombigbee or any ambulance service. Should Tombigbee come back with an attractive Demopolis-only proposal, where would the funding come from?

That, Williamson noted, would be one of the challenges facing the new administration, which begins Nov. 3.

It seems best to keep a locally-run ambulance service in Demopolis, and although the original three-party request fell through, that is not to say that Demopolis and Tombigbee are through. We need for Demopolis and Tombigbee to find some way of keeping an ambulance service at home, one that has been in the city for more than three decades and one that is run by people who know the city and its people.

It is great that the city council found new ways to spend the former ambulance monies, but it may have backed itself into a corner, or freely-spent its way out of luck, should the ambulance service return with a better proposal for the council and their citizens.