Sheriff Dept. still trending over on budget

By ED HOWELL
Posted 6/19/18

The Walker County Commission heard Monday that many departments, including the jail, were on track for the budgets, but the Sheriff's Department still is over budget. During the meeting, which …

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Sheriff Dept. still trending over on budget

Posted

The Walker County Commission heard Monday that many departments, including the jail, were on track for the budgets, but the Sheriff's Department still is over budget. 

During the meeting, which District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt did not attend, Interim County Administrator Robbie Dickerson commended a number of departments for being under budget. 

She noted the week just completed represented a trending goal of spending 71 percent for the fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30.

Walker County Civil Service stayed under budget by trending 63 percent, while the Walker County Emergency Management Agency is under budget at 41 percent. The county's animal shelter is trending 66 percent. 

"We have a couple of departments we are still communicating with that are still over budget but they are getting better. Those are the Revenue Department and the Probate Office," she said. 

District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said the Revenue Department is only off by about 2 percent, which could be easily made up within a quarter. 

Dickerson said, "The Sheriff's Department is about the same as it was the last time we had a work session." 

Later in the meeting, Davis said the Sheriff's Department is "running 14 percent." Later in the day, Dickerson confirmed that meant 14 percent beyond the goal, as the Sheriff's Department is trending 85.5 percent. 

Davis said in the meeting, "I know letters have been sent to that department, notifying them of running over and also of asking of meetings with the chairman. I would recommend we keep that department updated and continue to request a sit down with the chairman in that department."  

Dickerson said she regretted Aderholt was not there to hear that the Walker County Jail is actually under budget.

"To be honest, we need to thank him. We had around $330,000 in medical bills that he negotiated down to $50,000. That saved the budget for the jail," she said. "That is a huge savings and he worked very hard on that. He's to be commended."

She noted more bills are expected for a couple of inmates at the jail, including one surgery, although she did not know what the costs will be. 

A number of small routine budget amendments were approved, mostly dealing with grants that have come in or very small overages in the budget, as small as $5. The largest amendment cost by far was for a $104,000 amendment a $58,000 bill from the Daily Mountain Eagle, for publishing the voter list for the recent June 5 primary, was larger than expected. She said $75,000 to $80,000 will also be needed to pay for the July 17 runoff elections. Dickerson noted the county will be able soon to apply to the state for some reimbursement on the costs, noting the repayment usually comes about a month after application. 

Davis, in his commissioner comments at the end of the meeting, commended Dickinson and others for staff work on the budgets, noting they are working "extremely hard" on the matter.

In other action, the commission;

• Heard a complaint from P.R. Jones of Townley in District 2 that he could not hear what is being said at the meetings.

"I have trouble hearing hearing you back here," he said, midway in the audience of the commission chamber. "I hear you fine when you are facing this way, but when people start talking to you, I can't hear. I would appreciate if you got some kind of speaker. I can't believe this building hasn't got a speaker system." 

Bishop said the commission would work on the problem. Another man in the audience, Billy Bonner of Pleasant Ridge, said he couldn't hear in the room, either. 

"It's probably an oversight on our part. We've just been figuring out how to pay all these bills," Walker County Commission Chairman Jerry Bishop said. 

When Walker County Engineer Mike Short gave his report, Bishop asked him to turn to the audience so that he could be heard, until new speakers can be obtained. 

Bishop later noted the meeting was short but the speaker situation was a good thing to come out of it. As Jones, who regularly attends the meetings, had now mentioned the situation, "that gives me the support to go out and put microphones and speakers in this room. So I want to applaud him." 

• Heard Dickerson note that firewall and other equipment has been installed to secure the courthouse computer systems, as discussed during a recent commission meeting.

• Heard from Dickerson the quarterly night meeting for the commission will be on July 16 at 6 p.m. The night meetings are held to encourage the public to discuss problems and suggestions with the commission when they cannot come to day meetings. The commission also decided to still hold its July 2 meeting even with the Fourth of July following that week. 

• Heard from Short that the closure of a section of Pleasantfield Road in District 3 is on hold as lawyers who have looked at title searches have encouraged the county to get a land survey to make sure the road does not connect with other landowners. He strongly encouraged such a survey be provided by the petitioning landowners in arrangement with a licensed surveyor. "There is no way to make a judgement call on that without that survey being performed, in my opinion," he said.