• 77°

County commission considers 2003 budget but ignores sales tax

The Marengo County Commission held a work session Monday on the fiscal 2003 budget. The meeting was also expected to include discussion of a proposed one-cent sales tax.

The meeting was adjourned without discussion of the tax. Commissioners George Baldwin and Ken Tucker both seemed surprised that the meeting ended early.

Commissioner Freddie Armstead was not present for Monday’s meeting. He had proposed a county sales tax at the August 13 meeting where one third of the money would be divided between the hospital and mental health, one third for education and one third for the general fund. The motion died for the lack of a second.

Armstead offered another motion where the commission would begin the process of considering a sales tax with a public hearing. Commissioner Max Joiner asked that the commission hold a work session to discuss the issue before it is brought before a public hearing, and the motion passed.

There has been no date set for the public hearing, and Monday’s meeting was expected to include the work session on the tax.

No votes were taken at Monday’s meeting, and no formal decisions about the budget were made.

However, there seemed to be an informal understanding of what the commission wanted to spend this year.

County Revenue Commissioner Bo McAlpine reported at the August 13 commission meeting that tax revenues would be slow in arriving this fall because of reappraisals and new computer software.

In the version discussed at the work session, the 2003 budget will be kept at pretty much level funding.

Based on the conversation of the commissioners at Monday’s meeting, a $3,081.72 cost of living increase for county retirees will be approved as well as a one step, three percent raise for current county employees.

A request by the sheriff of $1,000 repairs to vehicles, but the commission tentatively said no to $500 for uniforms, $1,000 for tires and tubes, $500 in postage and $22,000 for capital outlay.

The commission said no to additional items asked by the County Jail such as $10,000 in medical expenses, $500 for uniforms, $2,000 in cleaning supplies and $3,000 for repair and maintenance.

Commissioner Joiner said Monday that he hopes the state will soon take some of the inmates out of the care of the county jail thus eliminating the need for high medical expenses.

A request for $4,763.95 in salary increases and $14,850 in miscellaneous funding for the Probate Office was denied. The county will pay $4,500 for a new map cabinet for the records room in the courthouse.

Probate Judge Cindy Neilson appeared before the commission Monday and again requested $6,200 for new software to print conservation (hunting and fishing) licenses. Commissioner Tucker said Monday he was in favor of paying for the software, however Commissioner Baldwin said such licenses are available from stores in the county.

The request for the license software has so far been denied.

An additional $1,500 requested by the Demopolis Public Library was denied.

The commission discussed raising the salary of the EMA director by two-steps, six percent.

The appropriation to the Resource Conservation and Development Board will be increased from $1,335 to $4,335 to help fund an additional staff person, and $1,000 will be provided to the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.