Budget Highlights

(The items and explanations below are condensed – and occasionally augmented by The Blount Countian – from the budget overview prepared by the commission staff and accompanying the 2014 budget.)

•Blount is one of the few counties in the state able to pay its total 20 percent ATRIP* match ($2.88M) without incurring debt. Doing so, however, would deplete county reserves, so the county may finance a least a portion of the required match.

•The budget is not balanced, because the commission has not yet decided how it will finance this year’s portion of the ATRIP match, estimated at $1.5M. Budget assumes it will be spent from the One-Cent Fuel Tax Fund reserve. Otherwise the county would be $146,000 in the black.

•ATRIP – for every $1 the county spends in matching funds, it gets $4 in grant funding from the state to spend on resurfacing major highways. Over three years, the county will receive $11.46M to spend resurfacing approximately 70 miles of 10 different county roads covering most areas of the county.

•District road budgets are less than 1 percent higher than last year, with Districts 2, 3, and 4 getting $942,210 and District 1 getting $1,019,414, due to its historically higher cost of hauling road materials due to greater distances.

•$50,000 has been allocated to one or more chambers of commerce, with the split to be determined by future commission decision.

•Palisades Park is level funded at $236,278 this year. Commissioners will work toward making it as cost-efficient as possible.

•The Agri-Business Center received a direct support allocation of $10,000. It is expected to show a profit in one to three years.

•Using worst-case assumptions concerning both expenditures and revenues, the general fund is budgeted to spend more than it receives in 2014. If expense and revenue actual conform to assumptions, the deficit will be financed from funds held in the general fund cash reserve. A break-even outcome is considered likely.

•Healthcare premiums will increase by 5 percent in 2014. To offset the increase required in employee contribution, the commission approved a 1-percent pay raise for all county employees, effective Dec. 1, 2013.

•The county will assume the full salary cost of the Emergency Management Agency director during 2014, and will provide a vehicle for his use. Previously the salary cost was split equally with the E-911 organization, which also provided a vehicle for his use.

•The personnel and safety department will contract with a state university to conduct a comprehensive survey of county jobs. The result will be detailed recommendations regarding a pay scale and schedules, detailed job descriptions, new employee handbook, policy recommendations and more. Cost of the study is estimated at $25,000. Result will be improved salary administration and liability insurance rates, reduced likelihood of lawsuits, and lowered legal fees.

•Circuit Judge Steven King requested about $9,000 to supplement the salary of the circuit court reporter. The county had discussed discontinuing the supplement to the state-paid job. The commission approved the request, with the supplement to end on the current reporter’s retirement, provided the Legislature passes enabling legislation. *Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program