County approves $20.2M budget

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Covington County Commission on Wednesday approved a $20.2 million budget that it balanced with $1.59 million funds it is carrying over from the current fiscal year.

Commission Chairman Bill Godwin publicly expressed appreciation to department heads for cuts they made from their original requests.

“Considering with have a bond payment to make at the airport that $22,500 per month, to make up over last year, and the money we get from a contract from the inmate phone system, due to a federal court ruling, will be reduced from $100,000 to $25,000, they’ve helped us make the cuts.”

After the meeting, Godwin said sales taxes decreased by 4 percent in the current fiscal year, and the ad valorem tax projection shows property taxes will increase only $5,000 this year.

“The (sales and use tax) printout shows year before last we had a spike,” Godwin said. “It jumped in 2013, and came down in 2014. What that means is some company had a large equipment purchase (in 2013).

“We are using carryover money to balance this,” he said.

The county commission, as well as Opp and Andalusia, were notified earlier this year that a company’s decision not to renew the lease of the industrial hangar at South Alabama Regional Airport means the three governments will need to contribute toward the payment on the building, beginning in January. The county’s portion is $22,500 per month, or more than $200,000 for the nine months of the 2015 fiscal year it will contribute.

Godwin said the county made cuts to outside agencies, as well as to its own departments. He personally favors delaying the resurfacing of seven miles of Hwy. 4, which will require a $200,000 county match for the $1 million in federal funds available.

The budget did include good news for county employees, who will get a $215 one-time bonus the first week of December, as well as a $50 to $100 safety bonus, to be paid at the same time. Elected and state or court-appointed officials aren’t eligible for the bonuses.

County administrator Brenda Petty also cautioned commissioners that the county has not yet received notice that its Drug Task Force grant has been funded again.

“That comes through ADECA, and they have been making cuts,” Petty said. “If that is not fully funded, you may have to make some changes.”