Commission passes $15.3 million budget

Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Chilton County Commission passed a budget of about $15.3 million Monday for the upcoming fiscal year.

The projected revenue of $15,364, 217 is slightly up from last year’s budget of roughly $15 million due to the county anticipating revenues to increase this fiscal year in ad valorem tax.

Commission Chairman Allen Caton said on Tuesday he thinks the 2013-2014 budget is in good shape for the upcoming fiscal year and commended county administrator Connie Powell for the work she put into preparing the budget.

“She spent a lot of time on the budget,” Caton said. “You only have so much money and it is based on projected income so you just don’t ever know an exact amount.”

Caton said all departments in the county saw an increase in their budgets this year but the increase was based on an across-the-board cost of living pay increase to county employees by 3 percent the commission approved in January 2013.

The monetary raise was the first for some employees in eight years and the 2013-2014 budget covers the monetary raises for the employees.

“You couldn’t just give those raises without any funding,” Caton said. “We had to give the departments more money to cover those raises.”

The two largest shares of the budget go to the General Fund ($3.1 million) and the Sheriff’s Fund ($3.496 million) that encompasses the sheriff’s department and the Chilton County Jail budget.

One change for this year’s budget included a line item transfer in the commission’s budget of $100,000 that goes toward the purchase of vehicles for the sheriff’s department.

“We found funding to buy cars for the sheriff’s department,” Caton said. “We had a fund that was not used and we rolled that money over for the sheriff’s vehicle fund.”

Caton said some of his concerns regarding the upcoming budget include the inability to grant a few departments in the county requested additional income due to lack of funds.

“There were a few departments that had asked for more money and I know they don’t ask for it if it is something they don’t need,” Caton said.

Another concern for Caton is figuring out a way to come up with $87,000 projected for county retirees hospital insurance.

Caton said Chilton County is one of the only counties in the state of Alabama that pays the hospital insurance for employees who have been with the county for more than 25 years.

“We have a lot of people in the county who will qualify for this in the next 10 years and this is a lot of money we are going to have to come up with,” Caton said. “I would like for the retirees money to come out of a line item we have set aside for retirees budget, that way we don’t have it coming out of each department’s budget.”

Commissioner Shannon Welch said it would be unreasonable to approve an unbalanced budget and recommended the commission approve the presented 2013-2014 budget with the understanding that if the commission received more funds it would come back and help retirees.

Welch made a motion to pass the budget with commissioner Greg Moore seconding the motion.

Commissioners Caton, Moore, Welch and Agee voted in favor of the budget.

Commissioner Joe Headley opposed.

Commissioners Heedy Hayes and Tim Mims were absent from Monday’s special meeting.

Headley said he voted against the budget because there were things he didn’t agree with and things in the budget he wasn’t happy about.

Welch said on Tuesday that he was pleased with the commission going through an actual budget process after passing level funding for the past five or six years for the budget.

Welch also commended Powell for helping prepare the budget.

“I am pleased but I hope for additional funds to come in throughout the year to be able to give all departments additional money to operate on,” Welch said.

The commission also voted on Monday to award a bid for security cameras at the Chilton County Courthouse to Crystal Keys for $12,316.11.

Commissioners voted at the Sept. 23 meeting to accept three bids for the cameras at the courthouse from Montgomery Electronics with a base bid of $19,400, Crystal Keys for $12,316.11 and Pinnacle NetworX for $25,351.

Caton said on Monday he had reviewed the bids and found the biggest difference between the two lowest bids included labor to install wiring.

Caton recommended the commission go with the lowest bidder, Crystal Keys and commissioners Headley, Moore, Welch and Caton voted in favor.

Commissioner Agee was not present at the meeting at the time of the vote.

Commissioners also voted for the commission to enter into a contract with county administrator Powell for three years, subject to the approval of the commission and Powell with the funding of the contract in the proposed budget.

Commissioners told county attorney John Hollis Jackson they would like him to present a final draft of the contract so the commission could approve the final contract with all of the specifics.

Commissioners, Welch, Moore, Caton and Agee voted in favor of the contract with Headley opposed.

Headley said on Tuesday he voted against the motion due to not thinking it was fair to give one employee a percentage raise each year with others not getting the same raise.

Headley said he isn’t opposed to giving raises, but with the 3-percent raise approved earlier in the year, he didn’t think it was right to give another percentage raise for one individual.

Caton said on Tuesday this is the first time the commission has ever entered into a contract with a county administrator and the main purpose is to provide security for the county.

“Connie’s position is the most important position in this county,” Caton said. “She deals with the day-to-day operations of the money for the county. Without her dealing with the day-to-day operations of making sure those budgets are kept, the county wouldn’t operate.”