Budget Committee tackles heavy plate of funding requests

During Monday’s Budget Committee meeting, Roy Livingston came to ask the committee how exactly a budget is put together.

“Salaries are paid out as payrolls come due,” Finance Director Brad Burke said. “As far as non-payroll items, purchase orders are issued before purchases can be made.”

Burke said there is no money the county can use that is not in the budget at least somewhere.

Livingston then asked how county budgets can then afford pay raises and bonuses that were not originally part of the budget they send to Nashville.

“It has been coming from fund balance or other line items,” Burke said.

For example, the county school board’s efforts to create a wage scale have primarily focused on affording it within their existing budgets, so no extra money needs to come into the school system to make that happen.

“If it is in the budget, they have to do it every single year,” Kelly Collins said about bonuses.

The committee heard the request from the Buildings and Grounds Committee to earmark $106,060 towards repaving the parking lot at the Workforce Development complex.

“We are also putting out an RFP looking for AE firms to come out to the Workforce Development complex,” Austin Jaynes said.

These efforts are part of a list of efforts the committee wants to make towards improving the facility.

The motion passed with only one dissenting vote from Travis Hill, who said he had heard much lower numbers several months ago and wanted more information on where the numbers were coming from. Shortly after the meeting, Hill said he obtained the information he needed to clarify his vote during full commission.

Roll Call Pro has a price discrepancy the committee had to resolve.

Burke said the package the committee voted to approve was actually $1,200 higher than the amount they actually voted for, due to a higher initial cost for a six-year plan instead of a four-year plan.

The committee voted in favor of setting aside $7,595 towards the new Roll Call Pro contract, with Willie Campbell as the lone dissenting vote.

Following that, Randall Jenkins said the Rules and Bylaws committee was asking for $5,000 to purchase tablets or laptops to use with the new system.

This comes up to roughly $208 per device, a figure the committee said would not be enough to afford touchscreen devices like the committee wants.

“We can get a Chromebook without a touchscreen for $200, but you add $100 for a touchscreen,” Jenkins said.

Collins made a motion to actually set aside $7,500 towards that purchase, which the committee voted to accept. Only Willie Campbell voted against.

Jenkins said they will not be getting rid of the clickers they currently use. The new devices will simply provide more options for each commissioner.

The Sheriff’s Department came to request money to purchase a contract for their new records management system, coming in at around $344,000.

Chief James Parish said their current system is failing regularly, and the parent company is going to sunset it at the end of next year.

“We figured this day was coming,” Parish said.

He also said they wanted to take the initiative on this before it became a bigger problem. The committee voted in favor, with Isaiah Grindstaff abstaining from the vote.

County Parks and Recreation brought a resolution to increase their meeting maximum from 10 meetings a year to 12. Travis Hill was the only dissenting vote.

The committee discussed the possibility of awarding holiday bonuses to county employees, which Burke said would have to come from the fund balance. The amounts do include benefits.

Hill said he believed the employees do deserve a bonus, but expressed concern about the timing, as the finance department is currently in study on county bonuses.

“If we think we have the money at the end of the year, I would much rather wait until the end of the year,” Hill said.

Collins said she agreed, but she said many of her constituents have expressed a desire to receive their Christmas bonus around Christmas time.

Charles Von Cannon said the committee spent quite a lot of money in this one meeting alone.

Aaron Frazier eventually made a motion to award a bonus of $250 full-time and $150 part-time, and next year, the committee should look to schedule these for the end of the fiscal year in the future.

Campbell, Grindstaff and Patty Woodby abstained, while the rest of the committee voted in favor.

The committee also voted in favor of giving $7,613 to Assistance and Resource Ministries, after a passioned talk with Ray Lyons, who said their heating pump went out recently, forcing them to use mini heaters scattered throughout the building.

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