Commission passes balanced 2010-11 budget

Published 5:43 pm Saturday, October 2, 2010

In a stressed economy it’s tough to make budgets workable, but the Escambia County Commission passed a balanced budget during Monday’s meeting of the group.

Commissioners bestowed praise upon County Administrator Tony Sanks for the work it took to get the budget for 2010-11 a balanced one.

“I just want to thank Tony for balancing this budget,” Commissioner Wiley Tait said. “I know he had to stretch the rubber band to make it work.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The general fund budget cam in at just over $7 million with other funds topping the $14 million mark.

Commissioner Larry White said being in a position to see a balanced budget is something for which he is thankful.

“I am thankful that we are in a position to have a balanced budget this year,” White said. “We have had some shortfalls in some areas. Being able to balance the budget in spite of that is good for everyone.”

Although some neighboring counties have been seeing deeper cuts, Commissioner Brandon Smith offered another point of thanks.

“We are lucky to not have any layoffs this year,” Smith said. “A lot of other counties are having to lay people off. We are blessed that we don’t have to do that.”

Although commissioners are thankful not to have to lay people off from their jobs, one spot of hope was dashed when the numbers were crunched.

“I appreciate Tony’s job and the job of the commissioners to get this budge balanced,” Commissioner Raymond Wiggins said. “Things were bounced around until we got the budget balanced. I would have loved for us to have been able to find the funds to give our employees a pay increase, but that just wasn’t possible.”

One area of increases in cost for the county was in healthcare insurance for employees. Sanks said a $30,000 increase in costs for employee insurance was accounted for in the budget.

“We absorbed that cost increase in the budget and didn’t have to pass that increase along to the employees,” Commission Chairman David Stokes said.

“Healthcare is tremendously important and we will do everything we can to keep that in place for our employees. It’s tough, but all we’re trying to do is stay afloat and keep our heads above water.”

In the general fund portion of the budget, public safety was one of only a few areas to see an increase in funds allocated for that purpose. Other funds finding increase in allocations include roads, bridges, public buildings, transportation and community corrections among others. Those areas seeing a decrease in funding for the 2011 fiscal year included general government, sanitation, debt service, work release and the aging program.

The 2011 fiscal year budget included $14,366,243.87 in funds compared to $13,890,531.96 for the 2010 fiscal year budget.

In other business Monday, the commission:

• approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Senior Services.

Sanks said $15,000 in funding for the County’s transit system comes from the Jobs Access and Reverse Commute (JARC) program. “The funding is a reimbursement of funds used by ECATS in helping with transportation of individuals on job related travel,” Sanks said. “That would include trips to the employment office or trips to look for a job.”

• approved a memorandum of understanding with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Sanks said the understanding is that the Tribe will resurface a road leading to Judson Cemetery. Although the county generally maintains the road, Tribal officials are offering to resurface the road at the their expense.

• approved annual bids for road, bridge and other project materials for the 2011 fiscal year.