Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 Source: Huntsville Times (AL) http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/1119518230805= 51. xml&coll=1 Copyright: 2005 The Huntsville Times Contact: http://www.htimes.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/730 Author: Brandy Yates Poole MARSHALL CITIES HIKE DRUG FUNDS AS FED CUTS LOOM Guntersville Most Recent To Increase Allotment To Unit GUNTERSVILLE - Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall's mission to drum up additional funds for the county drug enforcement unit has paid off. The Guntersville City Council is the latest government body to agree to increase finances for the unit. On Monday, the council voted to increase money this fiscal year by $3,500, which brings the total allotment to $23,500, and offer $14,000 more next year for a total yearly expenditure of $34,000. The Boaz City Council voted recently to increase its payment to the DEU from $20,000 annually to $40,000, which will, as in the past, be paid quarterly. The increase will begin with the next quarterly payment, which will jump from $5,000 to $10,000 per a budget amendment to be approved by the council, said City Clerk Barbara Walden. On June 6, Arab committed $14,000 a year to help fund the unit. The Marshall County Commission and Albertville City Council are expected to also pay additional money. The county DEU is just one of many drug enforcement units in the state that learned their main source of funding - grants from the U.S. Department of Justice - was being slashed and matching funds, paid locally to secure the grant, would be going up. The district attorney said the DEU is facing a reduction in federal funding from $285,000 to $185,000 this year. And, because the Department of Justice grant now requires a 50 percent match, another $70,000 to $75,000 in local funds must be raised to maximize the grant "to get it level-funded." While the four major cities and the county have been providing $20,000 annually to the unit, Marshall is asking each city to provide an additional $14,000 annually, one-fourth of which would be needed this fiscal year since the DEU grant runs from July 1 through June 30. The grant covers the salaries of DEU Director Rob Savage, four agents, a helicopter pilot and an administrative assistant. In addition, it pays 80 percent of the salary of an assistant district attorney and 25 percent of the salary of an accountant in the County Commission office, who performs bookkeeping duties for the DEU. Other expenses must also be covered, including insurance, fuel, telephones and radios, evidence supplies, rent for the office and money for undercover drug buys. Another boost in income is coming, Savage said, from $80,000 in seized money the unit will be applying toward the budget. However, the agents will still have to tighten their belts. In fact, Savage said, one agent will be eliminated and it's possible another will have to be moved to part-time status. Marshall said the unit worked on 715 cases last year, compared with 376 cases in 2000. Money that would have gone to the DEU is now being redirected to homeland security, Marshall said. The district attorney has also said it's not al-Qaida that worries people in Marshall County, but crystal meth. While sensitive to the need for homeland security, Marshall said he hopes federal officials in charge of funding local drug enforcement understand what a serious need the county has for help to control this problem. Marshall has voiced his concerns to U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, and U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa. "I think our congressional delegation understands the serious problem of meth in Alabama," Marshall said.