County approves 2022-23 budget

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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Escambia County Commissioners passed the budget for fiscal year 2023 Monday, but not without some exceptions in the vote.

Commissioners Steven Dickey and Karean Reynolds both cast a dissenting vote for the budget based on the elimination of the Special Projects Department of the county’s departments.

Chairman Raymond Wiggins said the elimination of the division would not stop any plans for paving, but would allow the county to use funds earmarked for the department to increase pay for all other employees on the county’s payroll.

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“By dissolving the special projects department it will give us about $148,000 to increase pay for some positions in the road department,” Wiggins said. “We need to work to retain our employees and attract new employees. We have lost several workers to Poarch and Creamer because of pay.”

Reynolds said the special projects team, made up of three employees, had worked to keep roads in good repair across the county. The elimination of that department may see that work slow, he added.

“This is a detriment to the county without any benefit to the road department,” Reynolds said. “To eliminate the special projects would end a key and critical part of our county’s infrastructure.”

Commissioner Brandon Smith said he understood the concerns of his fellow commissioners, but believed the elimination of the special projects division would benefit the county’s current needs.

“When we look at how hard it is to get workers and keep workers, this makes sense,” Smith said. “If I have to pick between the two, I’m going to choose the benefit for the bigger crew. We have to keep our maintenance people. We’ve got to do everything we can to keep our workers in place and not lose them to the private sector.”

Dickey said he saw zero effect for the county by eliminating the division.

In the roll call vote to approve the presented budget, Wiggins, Smith and Scottie Stewart voted in favor, while Dickey and Reynolds voted against the budget. The budget passed with a majority vote.

In other business, the commission:

  • approved the AEMA agreement;
  • amended holiday pay policy;
  • approved the upcoming holiday schedules;
  • awarded FY 2023 annual bids including gasoline and diesel fuel to Southern Energy Company/Cougar Oil; Signs and Sign Posts to Vulcan; traffic striping to Ozark Striping; Asphalt Plant Mix to Wiregrass Construction and H.O. Weaver and Sons Inc.; In place Asphalt to Mobile Asphalt; Uniforms to Galls and Gulf States Distributors; Asphalt Plant Mix Spot Leveling to Asphalt Plus LLC; crushed stone and materials to Dunn Construction for Limestone; and North Montgomery Materials Granit; and Concrete Pipe to Foley Products;
  • approved a Department of Youth Services Agreement – Reynolds said the Project Turnaround is led by Eric Coale as coordinator and is working with DYS to keep youth here instead of sending them to an out-of-area DYS facility; and,
  • agreed to post a 15 mph speed limit along Henderson Lane and Beatline Road. Reynolds said the two newly paved roads and residents in the area are concerned with speeding.