Sheriff’s department budget issue flares again

BLOUNT COUNTY COMMISSION

Here’s the short and sweet version of the most recent installment of the commission/sheriff’s department budget scuffle:

• District 3 Commissioner Dean Calvert voiced a motion (in the form of an addendum to a routine budget amendment) to deduct an $80,419.16 overrun in the sheriff’s department 2017 budget from its 2018 fiscal year budget.

• Asked if he had any preference as to how the repayment was to be handled, Sheriff Loyd Arrington asked, “Where’s it going to come from?”

• District 4 Commissioner Nick Washburn reminded the commission that he had asked previously that the repayment be made from the sheriff’s department pistol permit fund.

• Calvert’s reply focused on the reason for the demanded repayment: the sheriff’s department knew they were going to overrun the budget (due to a spike in inmate medical expenses) well before the end of the fiscal year, he said. (Calvert also mentioned unpaid bills.) They should have warned the commission of the impending overrun, he said.

• “Well, how about over-expenditures on salaries in the road department?” Arrington asked: “$176,351 more than the previous year in District 1; $111,336 more in District 2; and $45,748 more in District 3?” (District 4 experienced a small decrease, he said.)

• District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong said he had to hire three new employees last year.

• Arrington said, “Y’all are always asking me to help you out with the budget. How about y’all helping me out?”

• Commission Chairman Chris Green intervened, suggesting that the two sides get together and talk out the disagreement.

• Arrington: “I’m always willing to talk.”

• Calvert (Interrupting the call for a vote): “I can’t let that stand. You’re willing to talk after it’s too late.”

Then Green called for a vote on the motion, and the commission voted unanimously to require the sheriff’s department to repay the $80,000 in question from its current-year budget.

Resolutions approved:

• a resolution ordering a special election to be held Feb. 20, 2018, for voters in School District 3 (city limits of Oneonta) to determine whether to levy a tax of 9 mills per dollar of the assessed value of taxable property for public school purposes for a period of 30 years, beginning Oct. 1, 2017, becoming due and payable beginning on Oct. 1, 2018.

• a resolution proclaiming Nov. 17 – Nov. 23 as Alabama Farm-City Week, to encourage residents to recognize the accomplishments of farmers in creating food and fiber, wealth and strength for the nation.

• a resolution formalizing for the record the 772 agreement between Hayden, the Blount County Commission, and B&K Food Mart, which authorized the granting of public tax funds to a private business for economic and community development purposes.

• a resolution recognizing the county’s participation in the Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday Feb. 23–25, 2018.

• a resolution adopting the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) Medicaid for County Inmates Program for the purpose of reporting county inmates who may be eligible for reinstatement of certain Medicaid benefits and consequent reduction of costs to the county.

In other actions, the commission:

• Authorized the county engineer, county attorneys, and District 1 commissioner to negotiate with subdivision developers to accept Kristen Drive, Seth Circle, and Riley Way for county maintenance.

• Withdrew an item from consideration on discontinuing United Way contributions from the payroll deduction plan, due to the high salaries of United Way executives.

• Failed to act following discussion of a request from District 2 Commissioner Mike Painter to indebt the next commission for costs of transitioning to the fleet system of vehicle management in that district.

• Discussed and decided without a vote on an accounting procedure to be used for materials purchases in connection with the District 2 special maintenance fund road repair.

• Authorized the chairman, in the interest of time, to approve purchase/installation of flush valves to be used in revamp toilets in the jail so materials that would clog the sewer system cannot be flushed down the toilet by inmates; the previous procedure required the full commission to approve.

• Approved reappointments to Metropolitan Planning Organization: Allen Armstrong to Policy Committee; Brett King to Advisory Committee; Nick Washburn to serve as proxy for either.

• Approved Delores Fort for five-year term for West Blount Fire and EMS District Board, effective Dec. 1, 2017 – Nov. 30, 2022.

• Authorized administrator to bring fiscal year 2017 balances forward to 2018 budget for funds 11, 112, 117, and engineering capital improvements.

• Approved sponsoring table for $200 for the annual fundraiser of Blount County Save A Life.

• Authorized chairman to execute 2018 rental contracts.

• Discussed delayed FEMA funding for Miller Road Bridge project; project and funding have been approved, but check has not arrived; efforts being made to expedite with multiple contact points.

• Approved 2018 state/county holiday schedule (see chart below).

Quorum and future meetings

Commissioners of all four districts and the commission chairman were present at the business meeting.

The next scheduled work session is set for Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The next scheduled business meeting is set for Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. Both will be at 9 a.m. in the commission boardroom at the courthouse in Oneonta.

Brunson, Barnett, and Sherrer law firm will sponsor a Christmas luncheon for county employees on Dec. 18, following the commission meeting.

Note: The 2017 Moving Blount County Forward program of 11 road paving projects totalling 50.9 miles of heavily-travelled roads is virtually complete. Next week the paper will print a final wrapup on the program.