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County looks at cost-of-living raise for employees

The Morgan County Commission’s budget woes of last year have apparently disappeared and been replaced with the likelihood of full-time status for all employees, a 3 percent cost of living salary adjustment and no change in health insurance premiums.

This was the good news Commission Chairman Ray Long shared with district commissioners at a preliminary budget meeting on July 10.

“We’re better off financially than we were last year when we had to cut appropriations 10 percent across the board,” Long stated. “Our revenues have improved and our department heads have done a good job of managing their budgets and keeping them under control.

“Basically, we’re looking at a level-funded budget for next fiscal year, but in running the numbers we’ve included a 3 percent COLA and full-time status for all employees.”

The governing body voted at its last meeting in June to keep health insurance premiums for employees and their families at their current level.

“I believe if we stay on the track we’re on for the remainder of this fiscal year we’ll end up with a $1 million reserve,” Long pointed out. “I’d like for us to be able to build our reserve up to $7 or $8 million so that we don’t have to cut budgets in bad economic times.”

District I Commissioner Jeff Clark requested that $100,000 be taken from road and bridge funds and applied to each commissioner’s operating budget. He pointed out that the money is needed to offset expenditures resulting from capital projects and singled out

The Alabama Transportation and Improvement Program (ATRIP) as an example.

The commission recently applied for 80/20 funding for two bridge replacement projects under the program.

Long and other commissioners agreed that the ATRIP program is too good to pass up and indicated being in favor of following through with Clark’s request.

Long said the preliminary budget figures will be circulated among department heads and a first review meeting will be scheduled with commissioners after the second regular meeting in July.

He added that meetings between commissioners and individual department heads to go over budget proposals would not be held unless needed to clarify issues.