Funding problems for Athens County’s Geographic Information System (GIS) have been resolved, after various departments and agencies stepped up to help pay for the program. The GIS serves county departments, residents and several professions such as realtors and attorneys. The system maps out the county on-line, and provides information on features such as water lines, power lines, rivers, railroad crossings, underground mines and property ownership. As part of budget cuts in the 2004 budget, the Athens County Commissioners eliminated $25,000 that the county had previously paid for the coordinator’s position for the GIS. That coordinator had always been Athens County Engineer Archie Stanley, who did the duties in addition to his full-time work as county engineer.
The commissioners said at the time that they needed some other entities that use the GIS systems extensively to help pay for it. They said they did not want to ax the GIS, but could not keep paying for its whole budget. After a GIS committee held meetings on the issue in an attempt to find funding to keep the system running at its former level, several agencies agreed to help pay for it. On Tuesday, the Athens County Commissioners voted to approve the new budget for GIS, which includes funding from other agencies. The commissioners voted 2-1 to approve the budget, with commissioners Bill Theisen and Mark Sullivan voting for it, and commissioner Lenny Eliason voting against it.
The new budget shows that the Le-Ax Water District is contributing $10,000, Athens Township is contributing $2,500, the city of Athens is contributing $5,000, the Athens County Health Department is contributing $5,000 and the Athens County Planner is contributing $2,500.
Those contributions add up to the $25,000 cut by the commissioners, while the county will still pay for the benefits that go with the salary. Those benefits amount to about $5,000. Stanley said on Tuesday that the county’s Emergency Management Agency office is also looking for Homeland Security funds to contribute towards GIS and his office is contributing $25,000 for the GIS work this year. Stanley said he is pleased that GIS is fully funded again.