Clark: Reserve figure not $34 million
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Morgan County District 1 Commissioner Jeff Clark said a reserve figure quoted at the last commission meeting may have caused some confusion among agencies seeking county funding.
At the June 15 meeting, commissioners discussed bids of $20.7 million for the construction of a new jail and the negotiation of lowering construction costs.
Since bids came in at twice the original estimates from two years ago, District 2 Commissioner John Glasscock and District 4 Commissioner Stacy George questioned how the extra cost would be financed.
George suggested the funds be taken from the county's reserve, which Glasscock said stood at $34 million.
Clark said available funds in the reserve are actually much less than the $34 million Glasscock's comment may have led the public to believe.
"The fact of the matter is those funds are all restricted, except $9.2 million," Clark said. "We need to leave $5 million in reserve for contingency, which leaves $4.2 million in cash assets for emergencies and budget amendments. A budget is just an outline, and the reserve should be saved for adjustments, not to finish paying the overrun on the jail."
Clark said he and other commissioners have received several calls since the meeting from agencies looking for additional, or new, funding in next year's county budget.
"The outlook is not as bright as it seems," Clark said. "We ask that agencies be considerate in realizing there is not actually $34 million available in the county's reserve. We will try to fund agencies at the same amount as the previous year in the new budget."
While available reserve funds currently stand at $9.2 million, Clark said he expects that figure to increase to $10 million once county department heads turn in excess funding before next year's budget is decided in July.