Commission chairman wants to save for rainy day

Published 12:04 am Saturday, March 7, 2015

Bill Godwin wants to establish reserve funds for the county in case a catastrophic event were to occur.

The Covington County Commission chairman presented his reserve fund idea during last week’s Lions Club meeting, where he was the guest speaker.

Godwin, who has been the commission chairman since 2012, said the idea came because the law doesn’t require the county to have a reserve fund set up.

“I think it’s a good practice to do that in case of a catastrophic event,” Godwin said. “As far as I know, this county has never had a reserve fund or contingency fund that large.”

Godwin said it’s his idea to have at least $500,000 set aside for the fund, and added that he believes the county can set aside the money, no matter how bad or severe the budget gets.

“At least put $25,000-$50,000 every year in that fund so you can gradually build it up,” he said. “You don’t use it unless it’s a catastrophic event, like a tornado or flooding or something like the airport out there had in that situation.”

When asked where he thinks the money can come from to establish the fund, Godwin said tweaking the budget where it’s needed is an option.

“As we do the budget, we anticipate revenues and we anticipate expenses,” he said. “You look at where your expenditures are and can we cut this a little bit and that a little bit, and not impair those services in order to begin to do that.

“You do not want to budget every dollar you have you anticipate coming in,” he said. “You want to keep your services, and try to improve them some if you can, but try to put some aside.”

Ever since he’s been the chairman, Godwin said he’s believed in operating within the means, and eventually get to where the county can accomplish a goal of paying as it goes.

Another way the reserve fund can be built, according to Godwin, is to increase fees without it being a “burden” to the residents and putting the difference in what was budgeted and actually paid out in the fund.

“This year, for instance, fuel cost is going to be 15 percent less than what we budgeted,” he said. “You take that difference and put it in the fund.”

Godwin said he hopes to begin funding this endeavor pretty soon.

“I’m hoping to start shortly,” he said. “We’ve got this budget year and we will, in all probability, be getting a refund on the liability insurance. I do know we’ve already got a refund on the workman’s comp, and it was like $6,000.”

The county commission has asked Rep. Mike Jones and Sen. Jimmy Holley to draft legislation increasing indexing fees in the probate office, as well as increasing lodging taxes, to generate additional income for the county. The two measures are expected to collectively generate $235,000 per year.

On Monday, the county commission will hold a workshop meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the administration building, where it will discuss the fund, the county attorney’s position, purchasing some office space and the financing of cars purchased for the sheriff’s office.