Sparks Fly at Sups Meeting

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The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors met today in a work session, to examine ways the FY 2003 budget might be reduced.

Benny Watts, an accountant employed by the chancery clerk to assist in preparing the annual budget, offered supervisors some advice.

"If you're going to do any cutting, the only way you're going to do it is to cut out some major item," advised Watts. "You're not going to nit-pick this thing and make one iota of a difference. You want to cut some of that $200,000 Neal put in for the asphalt and the road fund. If you want to cut your equipment purchases, that's where you're going to get your money. I mean there ain't no need in talking about the little-bitty items. If you want to cut some big money out of here you've got to cut those big items."

A few minutes later, Watts reminded the board of a suggestion made last week by board president Craig Hitt to phase in the purchase of $1.6 million in road equipment purchases rather than buy it all up front.

Boswell was not pleased.

"You're the bookkeeper, you don't make decisions," said Boswell as he pointed a finger at Watts.

"But I was just, he brought something up the other day," answered Watts. "That was the way to cut the road equipment."

Boswell used his cell phone to call county engineer Neal Carson to the meeting, but at the same time kept up his critique of Watts until finally the accountant could stand no more.

"Watch your language," said Watts. "I ain't sitting here and taking all that mess off of him."

"You don't make decisions," said Boswell.

"I wasn't trying to make any decision," answered Watts. "Whatever you all do, I'll take care of." And Watts walked out, taking the county's records with him.

The upshot of the meeting was, there were no changes made in the budget and it will be presented for adoption Thursday, just as it was last night after the public hearing.