Decatur budget omits mental health center funding - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Decatur budget omits mental health center funding

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) -

The city served most by the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama won't be giving money to the non-profit organization again. 2017 will be the fourth straight year Decatur's city budget does not include funding for the mental health center.

William Giguere, Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama's development officer, said getting the $30,000 they requested would greatly help them help more people who suffer with serious mental illnesses and can't afford treatment, and without the funding, it will remain more challenging to do that. 

The Decatur City Council fiscal 2017 budget does not include that funding.

The Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama serves Limestone, Morgan and Lawrence counties. Giguere said roughly 1,500 of the estimated 4,500 people who received help from the center in 2015 was a Decatur resident.

He said with state funding cuts, state psychiatric hospital closures and Medicaid cuts, city funding that would be used exclusively for Decatur residents would be a great help. He said the money would primarily help the working poor who fall between the cracks and don't qualify for aid and who can't afford treatment out-of-pocket.

Giguere said that in the last year the city provided funding in 2013, the money helped roughly three dozen residents.

"What we would like to see in the future is to be included in the budget because we are part of this community. In fact, next year we celebrate our 50th year of services in Decatur and in north central Alabama. So what we'd like to see is we’d like to see our partnership to be expanded to include funding for the citizens," he said.

He said that the council's position in a tough economic time is understandable. And center officials remain hopeful that funding will be restored in coming years.

"There is no adversarial relationship with us. We work with the city now. We interact with the police department and emergency services. So, we are partners with the city. And we ultimately have the same goal of serving the same population. The issue is the ability to access resources. Right now, that's a challenge for all of us. The city's dealing with financial struggles, too," Giguere said.

Athens, Hartselle, LImestone County and Morgan County have allocated funding for the mental health center for 2017. Most of its funding for the center's projected $8.6 million 2017 budget comes from federal and state sources. Any funding supplied by local governments goes exclusively to aid residents from the city or county that allocated the money.

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