Dickerson: County budget improves in 1Q

Posted 1/8/19

The Walker County Commission heard good financial news on Monday - including the fact that county revenue is up and expenses are down. County Administrator Robbie Dickerson reported on a number …

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Dickerson: County budget improves in 1Q


The Walker County Commission heard good financial news on Monday - including the fact that county revenue is up and expenses are down. 

County Administrator Robbie Dickerson reported on a number of items at the meeting, including a brief update on the budget. For the first quarter of Fiscal 2019, the county's revenue was up 5 percent and expenditures were down 11 percent versus the first quarter of Fiscal 2018.

"We want to try to hold that as much as possible," she said. 

She said the county also had experienced savings of $8,000 on its liability insurance under the Association of County Commissions of Alabama. She noted she and Chairman Jerry Bishop had been working since last year to make the vehicle insurance more affordable and to get a better deductible. The county went from having $50,000 per incident deductible to $2,500 this year for smaller vehicles and $5,000 for larger vehicles, with the insurance purchased locally. 

"And, on top of that, the premium went down $6,000," she said. "So we're excited about that. If there is an accident, it will be easier to budget and for the department to repair that vehicle." 

Dickerson also reported the county's software company, S&W Mini Computers of Bessemer, had merged with another company. She also said Tim Peek of OnPoint Data Management Systems in Jasper, which handles computer hardware needs for the county on contract, is offering a system to streamline accounts payable so that commissioners would not have to physically come to the commission office to present paperwork. 

She said at the Jan. 21 meeting she would present a full report on the Holiday Toy Drive that the county participates in, as the Christmas drive met its goal. 

In other action, the commission: 

• Heard County Engineer Mike Short say officials are getting close to concluding an investigation into systems for electronic locks for the Walker County Jail. His office has been working with the chief jailer and the maintenance person to compile the needed information and a report on financial numbers should be made at the next commission meeting. 

Short and Bishop said prices are in from two companies and the county wants to see how low prices can be negotiated out. Also, Short said county officials want to see about spreading out the work in phases into the next fiscal year and using unit prices. 

"This could possibly be done with a joint purchasing consortium from which we are sometimes able to purchase large equipment," Short said, noting the new items are being retrofitted onto the old jail to make it more modern and functional. 

• Noted constables standing guard in the back of the chamber, apparently becoming a regular security feature at the commission meetings. 

• Voted to reappoint Johnathan Appling and Victor South to the Walker County E-911 Board at the recommendation of the board. 

• Agreed to appoint Peggy Wall of Jasper to replace Beth Tucker on the Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center Board of Directors, as Tucker has resigned. The board recommended Wall as she has supported the center and expressed interest serving on the board. The term will end in 2023. 

• Approved replacing Sheriff Jim Underwood on the Walker County Community Action Agency Board of Directors with Nick Smith, who will take office as the new sheriff on Jan. 14. Deidre Tatum, the agency's director, requested the replacement, as the sheriff and one commissioner is usually desired for on the board. District 3 Commissioner Ralph Williams will continue to serve on the board. 

• Voted for a new quitclaim deed to give clear title from county property to what has been known in the past as the Beacon House, and is now known as Concerned Citizens for Youth, Inc. County Attorney Eddie Jackson noted the youth shelter, just off Airport Road on Beacon Lane, burned in September 2016 and recently reopened. 

However, in the process the Beacon House was dissolved and reformed as as a successor corporation called Concerned Citizens for Our Youth, Inc., the name of a fundraising arm of Beacon House in the past. The old warranty deed to Beacon House indicated that if it ceased to exist then the property would revert back to the county. 

Jackson, when consulted by the shelter, asked out of precaution for the new deed to be drawn for the renamed shelter to prevent confusion, noting the commission actually did not believe reversion had occurred. Under the new document, if the facility stops being a youth center, the property still would revert back to the county.

"I understand that they have recently been able to pay off their debt and have their building free and clear now," Jackson said. District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said it is a nice facility, saying he estimates it is valued at about $1.5 million. 

Davis noted Jasper and the county worked together to repave Beacon Lane recently. 

• Voted for a number of bids for items such as stone, coal mix patching, traffic stiping, emulsified asphalt, corrugated metal pipe and HDPE double wall pipe. 

• Heard Bishop say that Randy Dodd, who had been working part-time in the commission, was no longer working for the county. "We'll miss him," he said. After the meeting, he said Dodd went to work for the county government in Jefferson County, auditing taxes and licenses. 

Dodd had worked for the county since April 2018 after retiring from the state Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. Dickerson said late last year Dodd had helped to get the office up to date in financial records.   

• Agreed to make the Jan. 21 meeting a night meeting. The commission had experimented with four quarterly night meetings in 2018, and Dickerson pointed out that Jan. 21 would be a night meeting. Bishop asked what the commissioners wanted to do, noting he had not seen an increase in attendance. Davis said he would like to give the option of a night meeting "one out of every six meetings." District 2 Commissioner Jeff Burrough said he would like to try it another year. Williams said he was fine either way, and District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt said he wanted to give options. Bishop then informally set the meeting at 6 p.m. for Jan. 21.