Commissioners visit capitol

Published 12:31 am Saturday, July 9, 2011

By David Ellis

I, along with fellow commissioners, recently joined county officials and employees who converged on Montgomery in a statewide effort to support legislation aimed at improving the performance of county government.

The two-day event, known as county day at the legislature, helps focus attention on the impact legislative actions have on local citizens and gives county officials and employees the opportunity to shape the content of dozens of bills that will change the actions of county governments in Alabama.

“Because county governments have only those powers granted by the legislature, it is vital that counties have an active role in the legislative process,” said Sonny Brasfield, executive director of the Association of County commissions of Alabama.

“If county officials and employees do not come to Montgomery, they have little hope of influencing the content of legislation that impacts their constituents.”

ACCA’s County Day at the Legislature, which was Wednesday and Thursday, April 27-28, began with a briefing Wednesday afternoon that included an explanation of bills expected to be in committee or discussed on the floor of the Alabama House or Senate later in the day. The members were escorted by ACCA staff to the state house for the rest of the day, where they were free to meet with their district’s legislators and staff members.

On Thursday morning, ACCA hosted a Breakfast with Legislators allowing county officials and legislators the opportunity to further discuss legislative matters in a more casual setting.

County Day at Mont-gomery was full of news of change. New ethics laws will affect the way our county and state government both operate. The state is facing the same problems we had when we took office three years ago, too much debt and wasteful spending.  The state is going to have to make tough decision which will not be popular, but will be necessary. In order to get the state finances back in order, cuts will have to be made appropriately. We are at a time in our government that we can only finance the services that are necessary to keep our county and state running.

Among all of this, there is one story which is very important to the future of our communities and our country. What will we do about the enormous debt and seriously unbalanced budget we have in this nation? It is obvious that our government entities across the nation are in trouble when it comes to passing their budgets on time.

For people who have spent a career in local government, balancing the budget requires a relatively simple solution. We must cut expenses, raise revenues or do a combination of both. No matter what end of the political sector you sit on, this necessity is a commonly understood fact of life. Local governments do not print money.

The ACCA is a statewide organization representing county government in Alabama. It promotes improved county government services in Alabama, offers educational programs for county officials and their staff members, administers insurance programs for county governments and employees, offers legal advice and represents the interest of county government before state and federal organizations and agencies.

The activities of the association are governed by a board of directors composed of three officers, past presidents and representatives elected from 12 Alabama districts.

For more information about County Day at the Legislature, contact me at, 334-504-2561 (cel) or, 334-493-7905 (home).