By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
If the local economy holds, Cullman County could see its projected sales tax revenue return to its record level of $7.2 million in 2008.
On Tuesday, the county commission unanimously approved its nearly $49.3 million general fund budget for fiscal 2014 which will begin Oct. 1. The budget represents a 6 percent, or $2.8 million, increase over the $46.5 million budget for the current fiscal year which will end Sept. 30.
Officials said the bulk of that 6 percent increase will go toward $1.5 million in required matching funds for a total of nearly $8 million in round two projects through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP). Another $600,000 will cover a 3 percent cost of living adjustment, or COLA, for the county’s approximately 500 employees, including full-time and part-time workers and elected officials.
The 3 percent raise will show up in employees’ first paycheck in November, said County Administrator Gary Teichmiller. However, with the payroll tax returning to 6.2 percent this year from 4.2 percent, county employees will only see a 1 percent raise from the COLA.
“If revenues come in as projected and our expenses stay within budget, we should break even,” Teichmiller said.
Overall, commissioners all said they felt pretty good about the budget, particularly being able to provide employee raises.
“I think everyone has done a good job managing their budgets, and we were still able to give a raise even though we’re basically working with a 2008 budget,” Chairman Kenneth Walker said.
Associate Commissioner Stanley Yarbrough commended departments for working with officials to keep finances in check. Associate Commissioner Darrell Hicks said officials try to balance the county’s money the same way they would balance their household budget.
“We have to be cautious and conservative,” Hicks said. “We couldn’t meet every department’s request, but we tried to be fair to all them.”
The county’s top 10 revenue sources: sales tax ($7.2 million), property tax ($4.7 million), TVA in lieu of taxes ($1.2 million), motor vehicle tax ($839,131), revenue commission fees ($835,349), housing federal inmate ($652,795), billings to sales tax collections ($321,783), probate fees ($276,126), community corrections ($270,928) and business privilege tax ($243,532).
The top 10 departments: water ($10 million), sheriff’s office ($6 million), sanitation ($4.8 million), jail ($3 million), revenue ($1.1 million), probate ($873,597), courthouse maintenance ($811,013), county commission ($747,936), Commission on Aging ($521,293) and juvenile detention ($509,930)
In other business, the commission:
Approved Sept. 10 meeting minutes, appropriations, expenditures, requisitions and all journal entries to be posted.
Approved annual renewal of catastrophic health insurance coverage through HCC for $247,000. The insurance covers expenses over $100,000 and is capped at $5.2 million.
Approved paying $7,896 for annual Alabama County Commission Association (ACCA) membership dues.
Ratified $482,998.52 for annual payment to ACCA Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurers’ Fund.
Approved $3,500 payment to buy 2.7 acres owned by Lisa Hullett, trustee for the Arnold grandchildren’s trust, to finish rerouting a section of Cullman County 950 which collapsed earlier this year near Smith Lake.
Approved terminating service agreement with Openshaw Media Group in Birmingham. The sales tax division has used the company to allow businesses to pay sales taxes online, with the county being charged $1 per transaction. This fall, Alabama will launch One Spot, a new service which will allow businesses to pay sales tax online with no charge to participants or local governments. Businesses can still file their sales taxes with traditional paper forms. The county expects to save up to $1,200 monthly without the Openshaw Media Group contract.
Approved $5,000 donation to 2013 Oktoberfest.
Approved $5,442 purchase of new hot water pressure washer from C&F Pressure Systems in Cullman. The road department will use it to wash down large equipment.
Declared the following items surplus: 2006 Chevrolet Express van from sheriff’s department which was donated to Cullman Police Department to transport prisoners, steam cleaner machine from road department to be used as trade-in for new hot water pressure washer and five broken office chairs to be disposed from juvenile detention department.
Awarded $33,930 bid for lowboy trailer to Better Built Trailers in Double Springs. County received five bids, of which two met specifications and the low-bid awarded.
Awarded bid of motor oil to Stewart’s Auto Parts in Cullman. County received three bids, and Stewart’s was the low-bidder.
Ratified the following personnel actions: Chaz Brouillette, Isom Carden, Alexis Duncan, Laura Weaver, Chloe Harbison, Brookelyn Cook and Kyle Norris, seasonal workers at Smith Lake Park dismissed; Casey Watts, new hire at sheriff’s office; Angela Carter, status change with Commission on Aging; Rachel Ross, promoted at sheriff’s office; Mark Blackwood, Daniel Presley, Andy Coffey, Jeff Hadley and David Tucker, merit increases at road department and Mark Kilpatrick, retired at sheriff’s office.
The Cullman County Commission will hold a work session 8:30 a.m. Oct. 8, followed by its meeting at 10 a.m.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached email at email@example.com or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.