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Drug court gets funding

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors voted Thursday to provide $19,878.65 to the Adams County Drug Court to make up for a budget shortfall in the program’s 2011-2012 budget.

Drug Court Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders appeared before the board to request the funds and an additional $29,920.30 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, moments after the supervisors adopted the county’s budget for 2012-2013.

The additional $29,920.30 would guarantee the drug court doesn’t find itself with a similar shortfall next year, Sanders said.

Adult drug court is funded primarily through a grant, and because the program had fewer participants in the previous year, its grant dropped approximately $60,000, County Administrator Joe Murray said.

“It had always been self-sustaining and carried itself through the years,” he said.

Sanders said the drug court faces challenges that similar programs in less rural areas do not have.

“The numbers (of participants) are still low,” Sanders said. “They want us to have a minimum of 125 participants. In my opinion, it is almost impossible, and we have tried to explain that to the state board that sets the budget. In areas where it is more urban, you can have that many participants, but we have one probation officer, and you want him to have that many people?”

Drug court participants also pay fees and court costs as part of the program, Sanders said.

Because the drug court covers several counties, the supervisors suggested they wait and see what other counties commit to giving before giving the drug court additional funding.

Wilkinson County has agreed to appropriate some funds, Sanders said.

“You all are getting some of the services (of drug court), so why do we have to wait to see what Wilkinson County does?” she said. “Seventy-five percent of our participants are from Adams County.”

Adams County’s drug court has 69 participants from Adams County, eight from Wilkinson County, one from Franklin County and one from Hattiesburg. Sanders said part of the drug court program allows drug courts from other parts of the state to send their participants to other drug courts.

Murray said the drug court came to the county with a similar funding request at the last minute last year, and that budget requests were due June 30. The request was in a budget he received, Murray said, but it was only received two weeks ago.

“I entered in the expenditure budget that the judge had submitted for this fiscal year, and I did not have any other receipt figures than what I had (for) last year, so I had to budget it to where it had to balance, and so I made a receipt figure equal to expenditures,” Murray said.

While there was some disagreement about whether the drug court received notice of when the budget was due prior to the June 30 deadline, the supervisors ultimately agreed to fund the 2012 shortfall.

In other news:

4The board adopted its $22.5 million budget for 2012-2013 without comment from the public.

4Road Manager Robbie Dollar informed the board that cleanup of storm debris associated with Tropical Storm Isaac would take approximately three weeks.