Summary of Commission Chairman Chris Green’s remarks

2017 budget

• Pay increase. The Auburn Center for Governmental Studies completed an update this year on county personnel policies and procedures, the first done since 1999. It included new job descriptions and a new county pay scale for each job, based on comparable wages in neighboring counties and towns. In addition to a 2-percent cost of living increase, the 2017 budget will further move employee wages upward an additional amount equal to 25 percent of the difference between current wages and the new scale developed by Auburn. Full implementation of new scales is cost prohibitive in a single year. It will be continued in subsequent years, as funds are available.

• Health insurance. Fiscal year 2017 health insurance premiums will increase 4 percent. County participation for family or single coverage will remain at 85 percent of total cost, with cost to employees at 15 percent. The insurance incentive paid to county employees who can receive health care benefits elsewhere (e.g. via a spouse’s coverage) is increased from $216 per month to $250 per month.

• ATRIP completion.The three-year Alabama Transportation and Rehabilitation Improvement Program (ATRIP) will be substantially complete by the end of 2016. (The final project may extend into early 2017). Seventy miles of major county roads have been renovated and repaved at a cost of $14.3 million. The 20 percent county match required – $2.86 million – was paid without incurring any county debt, one of the few counties in the state to achieve that distinction.

• Sales tax. The county commission, through the county’s legislative delegation, passed a bill providing for a referendum on increasing county revenue to continue progress begun with the ATRIP program. If passed, the 1-cent sales tax increase is earmarked to continue paving major roads, provide capital improvements to county schools, and provide additional support for cash-strapped county municipalities and fire departments.

• DA investigator. The 2016 budget contains a $50,000 appropriation for the District Attorney to hire an investigator to assist in the prosecution of criminals. Court fees flowing to the county general fund as a result of the investigator’s efforts is a revenue source that helps defray the costs of operating the county jail and sheriff’s department.

• County buildings. Work will continue on pace this year and into 2017 to provide proper security at the county courthouse and to continue work on electrical, plumbing, and HVAC updates and upgrades needed in most county buildings.