The 2016-2020 Shelby County Commission.
The state of Shelby County’s general fund reflects a strengthening economy, County Chief Financial Officer Butch Burbage told the Shelby County Commission. Following the main agenda of the Feb. 27 commission meeting, Burbage provided the commissioners with a financial review of the first four months of the fiscal year.
Most revenues came in higher than 2016 numbers, with the exceptions of rental tax, interest earned and probate fees.
“This has always been a mixed bag, up and down, up and down in previous times. This year, it kind of gives you a good economic indication of what our economy is doing, from year over year,” Burbage said. He added that the economy is starting to go up again, rather than remain flat.
Based on year-to-date numbers from 2016, the county has seen a 7.31 percent increase in general fund revenues — an increase that has not been seen in around 10 to 12 years, Burbage said.
“Is that indicative of what’s going to happen going forward for `18, `19 or `20? Obviously not,” Burbage said. “This is just a comparison of `16 and `17. But if you could use that as a historical basis, then we should be able ot say we’ll continue to see increases.”
That increase probably won’t continue at 7 percent, he said, but is something he believes will continue to increase.
Looking at the county’s YTD budget for 2017 compared with actual revenues, the county is around $36,000 over the budget. Burbage said overall, that shows the budget was not over exaggerating or underestimating general fund revenues.
Burbage went over other fund revenues, including the highway fund, which he said is overall in good shape.
“Right now, it’s looking pretty good,” Burbage said. “The funds are coming in pretty strong.”
“And I want you to keep that that way,” replied County Engineer Randy Cole.
Highway funds are around $1.37 million over where they were last year, and around $255,461 over the FY 2017 budget. Those funds will go into the annual paving contract, said County Manager Alex Dudchock.
“If we see this continue to strengthen throughout the year, then that’ll give him resources because we know those road and bridge projects are usually two or three year projects,” Burbage said.
When looking at actual revenues for highway funds, Burbage noted there are not many large bumps between 2012 and 2016. These funds see a “slow and steady” growth, he said, and are going in the right direction.
“But it’s still not keeping up with the inflation and the expense for the tar and gravel and the paving itself,” Dudchock said. “So when you track that in relation to what we’re getting per mile of surfacing, it is not that.”
In water services, the county saw a large spike of actual proprietary fund revenue compared to the budget. This came as a result of the county wholesaling water to Birmingham. While the revenue increase was around $2.144 over the budget according to the revenue documents Burbage provided, Dudchock said when the offsetting expense was taken into account, the net difference was around $1.4 million.
Following Burbage’s presentation, Dudchock discussed with the commission a few funding actions for Fiscal Year 2018, including funding for future road/bridge/paving projects, park facility projects, maintenance and repairs at county facilities and other items. No action was taken on those discussion points at the meeting, but Dudchock said the commission will discuss prioritization of some of those items in future meetings.
Dudchock also discussed FY 2017 capital expenditures with the commission.
Because water services saw around a $1.4 million net difference from the budget, Dudchock recommended reprogramming $1.4 million in the budget for the Talladega-Shelby Water Treatment Plant to ongoing projects at the Shelby County courthouse and adjacent buildings. The $1.4 million net difference already seen would be used with the remaining $600,000 from the general fund for TSWTP.
Dudchock also brought up funding measures regarding fleet replacement at the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff John Samaniego has dedicated $300,000 in both FY 18 and 19 to go toward that fleet action, Dudchock said, and requested the decision make a decision in regard to $1 million to go toward capital improvements in public safety — including the fleet replacement and an IT action. Along with the $600,000 total from the sheriff, Dudchock said the total toward improvements would be $1.6 million.
“That would be expenditures for fiscal year 18 and 19,” Dudchock said, “so when the budget is done for next year, there’s not going to be another $600,000. Now, we will be accumulating funds to continue the practice for some measure in the future, based on revenues.”
Commissioner Lindsey Allison, a member of the budget, finance and legal committee, asked for the commission to hold a work session to discuss the measure, rather than make a decision during the meeting. Allison said with two relatively new members of the commission — Commissioners Ward Williams and Kevin Morris — she would prefer to discuss the topic in-depth and to discuss an amendment which was passed in regard to funding for the Sheriff’s Office.
“I think [the new commissioners] need to understand the resolution adopted in the budget process,” Allison said. “It would be in direct conflict with the resolution we adopted in the budget process, and I think as a commission as a whole, we need to have discussion on that issue before we go forward.”
The budget amendment was passed as a way to allow the commission to monitor money in case of any budget overages in regard to the sheriff’s office, Allison told the commission during its Sept. 12 meeting.
Samaniego told the commission he spoke with a vendor about purchasing five Tahoes at a saving of around $4,000 saved per unit, and Dudchock said that was one reason a decision was requested at tonight’s meeting. Samaniego said the vendor had previously agreed to hold the vehicles until the end of February, but added that he would call tomorrow, Feb. 28, to see if he could have a few more weeks.
No decision in regard to the $1 million for public safety was made at the commission meeting, and Samaniego said he would email the commission notifying them of what the vendor said.