Florala Utilities office date set for move

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Florala Utilities Board office will close Feb. 20 and reopen inside city hall the next day.

The move has been months in the making after an audit revealed nearly 20 findings of poor accounting and personnel practices by the board. In January, both the city and the utilities board approved the “shared services agreement” that facilitated the move. Now, the supervision of the office staff will fall to the city clerk.

“I’ve been frustrated with the time it’s taken for us to get efficient,” said board member Robert Williamson, who also serves as Florala’s mayor. “But we’re getting there.”

On Monday, board members handled some of the last items needed to make the operational transition from the old Alabama Power building to inside city hall. Among those were approving a budget that included a $6,500 pay increase for the city clerk for added supervision and clerical duties – a move that saved approximately $20,000 in personnel costs, Williamson said.

Board members did not address other employee compensation such as hourly pay versus salary and vacation and sick leave, opting to discuss that on an individual basis with each employee.

As for the 2013 fiscal year budget, the board is reportedly expecting $965,860 in revenues, while budgeting $921,646 in expenses for a profit of more than $44,000.

“Without this budget, we’ve just been shooting in the dark all this time,” Chairman Marvin Williford said. “We need something to go by, and we can always amend it later, but this is pretty close to where we need to be.”

In other business, the board also hired Bob Carter of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, to create a map of the water lines in the northwest section of the city near Seventh Avenue to 10th Street.