That is, until the FY 2012 budget, which the commission approved Tuesday at its regular meeting, following four days of work sessions leading up to it.
“Last year I thought it was difficult,” Batemon said Tuesday. “This year it’s worse.”
The county budget for FY 2012 is $33.2 million, according to chief financial officer Donna Wood. Of that amount, $16.1 million is in the general fund, and Batemon said the county currently has a fund balance of roughly 30 percent.
“There have been times in the past where we have maintained a fund balance of nearly 60 percent,” he said.
Much of the difference is due to various development projects the county has undertaken in the past decade — specifically, Batemon mentioned the construction of a replacement hospital in Pell City, renovation of the St. Clair County Courthouse in Ashville and the Coosa Valley Water Supply District, scheduled to come online later this year.
“These are projects we embarked on several years ago,” he said. “As a result, we’ve been able to attract a lot of interest from developers for other projects, because of the upgrades we’ve made to our infrastructure.”
Batemon said the current economic climate means the county likely won’t undertake any such projects in the near future.
“The economy is so bad right now,” he said. “You won’t be seeing us taking on any large projects. We just don’t have the opportunity to do that right now.
“If we have chances at some commercial projects, like shopping centers or things of that nature, we can address those, because it’s important to the citizens of our county and it’s important to our employees. … I think we have a good budget for the times we face.”
Commissioner Paul Manning also requested the commission review the budget quarterly, instead of after six months, which is its usual policy.
“We all are very serious, watching this budget closely for the next few months,” Manning said. “We also realize we’ve had jobs created by many of the programs we’ve been involved in. We just want things to pick up a little bit.”
Commissioner Jeff Brown commended his fellow commissioners, Wood and county administrator Kellie Long for their work.
“I’m proud to serve with these guys,” Brown said. “We’ve all worked hard on this, and we’ve made some tough decisions. I thank everybody for the job you’ve done.”
In other business, the commission:
• Approved the FY 2011 budget amendments, totaling $445,659.41.
• Approved awarding annual bids for the county’s Road Department as follows: aggregate — Dunn Construction, Blount Springs and McCartney Construction; asphalt — Ergon Asphalt; concrete box culverts and concrete culverts — Hanson Pipe and Products; metal pipe and high-density corrugated plastic pipe — Wells Septic; cold plant mix — Good Hope Construction and Dunn Construction; hot plant mix — Good Hope, APAC and McCartney Construction; traffic signs — Traffic Signs; traffic striping — Ozark Striping; uniform rental — UniFirst.
• Approved a resolution adopting new requirements from the federal Government Accounting Standards Board for fund balance reporting.
• Approved a resolution extending negotiations on the Series C warrants related to the Bass Pro Shop practice in the Leeds-General Cooperative District. The new deadline for a renegotiated agreement is Dec. 31.
• Approved recommendations for the following bids: law enforcement uniforms — McCain Uniforms; carpet cleaning — Commercial Carpet Cleaning; janitorial supplies — JanPak; computer paper — JanPak; office supplies — Observer Office Supply; printing — American Solutions for Business.
• Approved Lyn Crowe to fill the vacant maintenance supervisor position, and authorized property manager Harold Hoyle to post the vacant housekeeper position.
• Approved a resolution authorizing third-party contracts for public transportation, as well as annual contracts with the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging and the ARC of St. Clair County. The commission also approved authorization of a grant agreement for Job Access and Reverse Commute.
• Authorized engineer Dan Dahlke to hire workers under contract for the completion of work on Waldrop Road.
• Approved a purchase agreement for items on the county’s bid list with the city of Margaret.
• Denied a lounge retail liquor license to Gary and Mary Troxell for Sanie Road Spirits in Odenville, owing to potential issues with traffic congestion and public safety reasons, as well as public concern.
• Approved a contract with Legal Services of Alabama to provide legal office space in the county courthouse in Ashville free of charge. The group will provide free legal services to victims of the April 27 tornadoes each Tuesday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Appointed Josh Kell to the Public Building Authority, to replace his late father, Paul Kell; and reappointed Connie Ford to the county library board.
• Approved the minutes of the regular meeting July 12.
• Approved payment of monthly bills.
Contact Will Heath at email@example.com.