No degradation due to recessionPosted: March 22, 2009
By Jake Carter
The recession has cost jobs, closed businesses and created heated debate all over how and if the federal government should handle the situation.
Fortunately, Athens-Clarke County is far better prepared for a recession than many other counties. The resources available to ACC such as the university and music culture provide advantages to the county not available to others in the state.
Several members of the government including Patrick Rives, Superintendent of Animal Control have stated that the county has funds in reserve specifically for economic downturns.
Rives stated that the ACC budget for all departments is based on a line-audit wish list that is submitted to the mayor for editing and approval. Most departments, including Animal Control have budgets that are similar if not increased from what they were last fiscal year.
“We may see some decreases in budget next fiscal year, but for now there has been no significant change.” Rives said.
According to Rives there are several problems that could arise for the ACC Animal Control if the recession persists such as an increase in abandoned pets and a decrease in adoptions. An increase of strays could end up in the downtown area and pose a potential danger.
Rives does not believe that this is likely to happen any time soon because animal control is given an unusually large amount of coverage by local media outlets and volunteer help from university students and the community lessening the recession’s affects on the department. Other departments share a similarly optimistic look.
The Athens-Clarke County Community Protection Division (CPD) patrols and enforces the ordinances of the county. Downtown Athens is one of four zones patrolled by the CPD. The downtown area is divided into six routes that are patrolled twice a month according to the ACC Auditor’s reports.
From April 2007 to March 2008 1560 violations were reported in the downtown area. These violations represented 27 percent of the total violations during the time-frame.
The CPD defines violations as substandard housing, front yard parking, graffiti, junked vehicles, unlawful dumping, improper trash receptacles placement, or failure to maintain property.
“We have not yet seen any upswing in the number of violations in the downtown area,” John Spagna, the administrator of the CPD said.
Spagna stated that as businesses closed and people start losing their jobs violations in housing codes and litter typically increase, but no such pattern has emerged in ACC. Final data for this fiscal year will not be available until July.