Coping with cuts
An occasional series examining the fallout of more than $11.5 million in cuts to Hall County’s fiscal 2012 budget.
The Emergency Management Agency is one person short after cuts made in July to the Hall County budget.
David Kimbrell, director of the agency, has lost a full-time employee and is now working to fill the gaps.
"It was a budget decision," said Tom Oliver, Hall County Board of Commissioners chairman. "The logic is based on the decision not to raise the millage and all of the sudden that's just one of many things we're seeing challenges with."
A revenue shortfall for the fiscal year 2011 resulted in an $11.5 million hole. Commissioners voted to slash services rather than increase taxes.
Kimbrell, also chief of the Hall County Fire Department, is responsible for handling all emergency management situations, including coordinating, planning and responding to emergency situations that involve multiple agencies.
"We have an emergency operations center in times of disaster," Kimbrell said. "The major components of the emergency operations plan would come to the emergency operations center to make major decisions."
Kimbrell said the department will spread duties among county fire employees.
"We're kind of in the process now of seeing who fits which portion of that and divide those duties up," he said.
The position was mainly a planning job in which the person would coordinate activities with outside agencies, including ones out of state, during such emergencies as a snowstorm, tornado, bomb threat, etc., he said.
In the event of an emergency situation, Kimbrell said he does not think the public will notice a lack of response.
"The folks that are left are going to try their best to pick up the slack and continue on," he said.
Commissioner Craig Lutz said in order to balance the budget several positions had to be cut, and the emergency management position was one that could be absorbed into other positions.
"We were just trying to figure out how we could eliminate positions in the county and that was one of them that we felt like was somewhat duplicated in other departments," he said. "I believe it was felt like through methods and procedures a lot of that coordination could be handled."
Oliver said he would have liked for the emergency management position to have not been cut, but he believes Kimbrell will be able to assume those responsibilities without any problems.
"I think that the fire department or Chief Kimbrell's leadership does a great job and so I would be optimistic that they could do it," Oliver said. "I just wonder how many hats that everybody has to wear."