Madison County commissioners approved the 2014 budget Dec. 30 after months of discussion.
Next year’s budget is up slightly from this year, from $13.59 million in 2013 to $13.92 million in 2014, a 2.4 percent increase. Expected revenues are up slightly from $12,954,333 to $13,065,800 an increase of less than one percent.
Commissioners kept this year’s tax rates steady, but the county will bring in slightly more in property tax revenue, from $6,503,698 to $6,664,159 due to a small increase in the county’s digest, or overall property value.
The county has budgeted just over $850,000 from its reserve fund to balance next year’s budget.
County commission chairman Anthony Dove said the county must provide a balanced budget, but that the reserves don’t necessarily have to be pulled to cover expenses.
“That’s what you have to show you have,” said Dove. “That doesn’t mean you have to spend it.”
Commissioner John Pethel provided the lone vote against the budget Dec. 30. He has repeatedly said he disapproves of the 2014 budget.
“That’s almost twice as much coming out of reserves this year (2014) as last year (2013),” said Pethel.
Dove has said he projects that the county will have roughly $4 million in reserves in 2014, down from an average of $5 million the past couple of years. He said the drop is a result of the commissioners approving road paving and resurfacing projects along with patrol car purchases.
Prior to the budget vote Monday, Madison County commissioners approved a reclassification for zoning administrator Linda Fortson, naming her “department head” of the planning and zoning office. They noted that she is handling all duties in the office and agreed to set her salary at just over $34,000. The board approved the move by a 3-1 vote, with commissioner Mike Youngblood providing the lone “No.”
Pethel suggested that the board consider combining the planning and zoning and the building inspection offices. Youngblood said he favored such a move, but he said he felt Eddie Pritchett, who is head of the building inspection office, should be the head of the combined department. Pethel said he felt Fortson had a wider range of experience and should be the department head. The board took no action on the matter. There was no mention of eliminating any positions. Both offices are significantly smaller and less active than during the housing boom.
“It’s something we could look at and do a work session on it,” said Dove. “But I don’t know if it would change a whole lot with the budget right now.”