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Commission chairperson shares thoughts on budget

At last Monday’s meeting of Randolph County Commission, Chairman Pam Johnson made the following comments concerning the 2023-2024 budget passed by the commission (as reported by Mike McCormick)

Here we are with a budget that needs a million-dollar cut to balance. I see good and I see bad. But mostly, I see a county working together.

This Commission asked each department head to put on paper what they really wanted or needed during the budget process. The first year was minimal, the next year you ask for little more and this year you have dreamed big and provided a wish list. This is the way a budget process is supposed to work. You know where your department is, what works, and what you may need to make it even better. You should be looking out for your department, what it needs and how it can best serve the citizens of Randolph County; supervising and managing. The commission was never designed to manage or supervise individual departments.

I personally want to thank each of you for doing what is expected of you as a department head. If we never dare to dream, we only limit ourselves and our abilities to serve. You have done your part. It is now the task and the responsibility of the Commission to do our job; review and make decisions for Randolph County Government as a whole. It is our goal to work together with every department for the betterment of Randolph County, ensuring that monies are allocated appropriately and according to laws. And that is what we will do.

In the last few weeks since it was known we had a task of cutting the budget to balance, rumors flourished. I have met with several employees and department heads. Rumors were floating around that we were cutting staff and or pay. That is so far from the truth. There will be no employee cuts coming from the Commission due to the balanced budget. We value our employees.

We have made a small amount of progress trying to get our employees pay comparable with other counties. One of the first discussions was to make provisions to help as much as the budget will allow in order to ease some of the strain that our current inflation has put on everyone. All employees have the opportunity, if they meet standards on their performance appraisal, to get their annual 3.14 percent raise. We also included in the budget an additional 2 percent cost of living across the board. We did have a few things working against us. Neglect, destruction and carelessness has caught up with us and has caused an estimated increase of 39 percent for the county’s worker’s compensation, vehicle, equipment, property and general liability insurances.

However, the flip side is we encountered a good year from the Revenue Office.

Kudos to the Revenue Office team for doing the job their office is designed to do.

We all knew there was unaccounted property, lost revenue. You all devised a plan to capture this lost revenue.

It started last year with the purchase of a boat and changes within the office. The idea paid off.

This year our property revenue increased about $892,869 which will be distributed as follows. $148,069 to the State, $56,139 to the VFD, $125,987 to the Hospital, $43,046 to the Municipalities and $239,507 to the County. Again, thank you, Revenue Commissioner Tammy Farr!

When I speak of departments working together, I mean they were really thinking of ways to help and ways to move us forward.

We had one department head call us and cut his overtime budget in half to do his part.

We had one department volunteer to join a pilot program which will result in a savings when State mandates upgrading to the new system.

We had one department head cut two vacant positions with plans to streamline its department.

Thank You!

Two of our largest departments by way of visuality in the public and cost is our Sheriff’s Office and Highway Department.

Our Commission backs the blue. We support our Sheriff’s Office and do so with 73 percent of the General Fund budget dedicated to public safety. We are sincere in our efforts to fund public safety. Since this Commission took office, we have increased this budget $1.4 million.

This year we request a full time school resource officer in Woodland and have made provisions for such in our budget.

Rebuilding Randolph County infrastructure is always on everyone’s mind rightfully so, and this Commission had a goal to work on our infrastructure.

Our new Engineer and his staff made adjustments, and their efforts are showing.

Our FY 23 Rebuild Alabama projects are underway this month totaling $1.4 million on County Roads 87, 47, 132, 967 and 101.

The FY 24 Rebuild Alabama projects totaling $1 million on County Roads 67, 103, 5 and 71 have been budgeted.

Our budget consists of $230,000 for patching material which has proven to make a huge difference in our infrastructure.

We have sought after grants and been awarded a CDBG Grant to chip seal County Road 30 and a portion of County Road 17 totaling $611,000.

We also have been awarded by ARPA stormwater grant projects $200,000 which will help in the purchase off needed pipes.

We have requested $500,000 of the ARPA money to be granted for our dirt roads this year and are awaiting the approval. If granted it could mean much needed gravel a one-time opportunity. Distribution will begin on bus routes as provided by our BOE.

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