Notes on 2013 county budget

•Projected revenues for 2013 (only $15,000 above 2012) are not adequate to fund employee raises this fiscal year. “The commission regrets that fact and appreciates both the dedication employees bring to the job and understands the challenges they face in providing for their families,” Commission Chairman Chris Green said. The other side of the coin, he said, is that even through years of a troubled economy, when many counties have struggled, there have been no layoffs here and none are contemplated.

•Even with budget cuts, a shortfall of $279,270 will need to be offset with an equivalent amount from general fund reserves to balance the 2013 budget.

•Increasing costs of the Blount County Family Services Mall have added significantly to budget needs in recent years. The concept is sound, but costs continue to mount as development of the facility continues.

•The county general fund has absorbed the cost of providing an animal control office and animal adoption center/ animal shelter as required by law. The continued addition of new expenses to the general fund without the addition of new or increased revenues must be addressed at some point to avert an impending financial crisis.

•Costs associated with the county transfer station, contributing $125,531 to the budget shortfall, continue to require special attention to reduce this annual drag on the budget.

•The Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation Improvement Program (ATRIP) will provide funding to improve county roads, provided the county can contribute 20 percent in matching funds. To get maximum benefit from this funding source, the county will need to borrow money to supply the 20 percent match required for a half dozen significant farm-to-market road upgrade projects.

•The county electorate will decide in the November election if the county will remain “dry” or if the sale of alcoholic beverages will be legalized. If the county votes to legalize sale of alcoholic beverages, approximately $400,000 currently received in-lieu-oftaxes will be immediately forfeited. Alcohol sales tax revenue will be received in its place but the amount is unknown, and in any event will not be received until legalization implementation unfolds over time, estimated by some to take place gradually over a period as long as five years. That would create a serious budget crisis until the lost amount is replaced and exceeded.