County commissioners delay passing of 2021 budget

Posted 9/15/20

Madison County commissioners Monday passed on passing the upcoming 2021, after Precinct 1 Commissioner Ricky Driskell moved to adjust language about county employee raises to only covering employees making $15 an hour or less.

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County commissioners delay passing of 2021 budget

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Madison County commissioners Monday passed on passing the upcoming 2021, after Precinct 1 Commissioner Ricky Driskell moved to adjust language about county employee raises to only covering employees making $15 an hour or less.

After being informed by county officials that the commissioners would be passing the budget without all the proper data stemming from the proposed change, the commissioners simply voted not to approve the budget, which could push passage of the budget past the Oct. 1 beginning of the 2021 fiscal year.

Despite state law that a county can only spend funds after a budget has passed, Madison County Auditor Toni Joyner doesn’t foresee problems arising.

“This won’t impact us too much as I feel they will agree on a budget and get it passed prior to our first regular CCRT in October (Oct. 12),” Joyner said. “The county wouldn’t normally be approving any payments until then anyway.”

Shooting down the budget as written Monday will require the county to restart the schedule of public notices and hearings in regard to the budget.

Driskell said after the meeting that he wants to give employees under $15 an hour a 3% raise in the coming year and said all county employees have been given a 4% raise each year for the past eight years. Joyner said the raises over the past eight years actually varied from zero to 5%.

In the proposed 2021 budget, all county employees would have seen a raise of roughly 3%.

The question of salaries almost delayed budget approval last year, when Driskell raised an objection during discussions of the budget about a proposed 4% increase in salaries for county departments, suggesting a 3% raise instead. Commissioners, though, acquiesced in time to pass the measure without alteration.

Though commissioners earlier voted to move forward with a proposed tax rate of 55 cents per $100 of property valuation for fiscal year 2021, unchanged from 2020, revenue for 2021 on the proposed budget was expected to rise $2,427 on the basis of new property added to the rolls.

In other measures Monday, commissioners agreed to enter a two-year contract with AT&T Communications, LLC, for internet service that will reduce monthly cost from $1,879 a month through CenturyLink, Inc. to $800 a month with the same speeds.

In an update about COVID-19 Monday, County Judge Tony Leago announced that there are zero active cases in the county as of Monday, which is the same information reported on the Department of State Health Services online dashboard.

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