County budgets in black

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Since 1929, our country has survived 13 recessions and the Great Depression. The longest lasting recession lasted eight months. The latest recession has been much longer, and we continue to struggle with our economy. Our unemployment rate is more than 11 percent both nationally and in our state. We have more than 105,000 people in our state receiving unemployment compensation with benefits having been extended from 26 weeks to 99 weeks. We no longer compete with neighboring towns and states for jobs, but now we have to compete worldwide.

As our economy continues to decline, state leaders as well as local leaders will have to decide what we can afford to fund. How do we maintain the level of services the people expect with fewer resources? We have to decide what we can and cannot do. Is our education system going to have to learn to operate with less money? And, if so, what kind of work force will we be creating with our educational system?

Our state government is facing the biggest challenges they have ever faced during the current legislative session. Will the state have to declare proration? In 2010 and 2011, stimulus funds will be gone. Roads and bridges are deteriorating; and where is the money coming from to improve them when the trust fund is broke? What causes all of these problems? Greed?

Covington County, specifically the commission, continues to struggle with its finances, but we are still fortunate that we have not been forced to lay off any workers. It has been necessary to change the way the county was previously operated. Our dirt roads continue to be a problem, but it is a problem we have no control over with the amount of rain we have received. Our farmers are facing the same problems; however, the problems we can control have improved greatly.

This past year was the first year since 1995 the county did not go into any further debt. We have all funds in the black now, even the $834,000 deficit fund balance that was created in the past under the old district system. Funds have been paid back to the 2005 Capital Projects Fund in the in the amount of $549,650. These funds were used to put a new roof on the Covington County Courthouse. In addition, these funds will be used for a new elevator at the courthouse and some minor updating of the main entrance of the courthouse. Our budget this year was distributed more evenly; Opp and Florala libraries, along with their Adult Activity Centers, received increases.

Our commission must learn to live within its budget and learn that we cannot spend more money than we take in. We must set an example for all departments of our county and be the fiscally responsible leaders of Covington County.

We often wonder why we have so many dishonest politicians. I think society creates dishonest politicians because society does not want them to do what is right or legal, but rather what will better benefit themselves personally.

Please feel free to call or contact me at anytime.

Commissioner David Ellis may be reached at 334-493-7905 or by email at