Baldwin County Assistant County Manager Dawn Hudson discussed the overall new proposed Fiscal Year 2022 county budget during a recent meeting of the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners.
The meeting was held at the county government complex on North Columbia Street.
The fiscal year budget, which runs from Jan. 1, 2022, through Dec. 31, has been made available for review by the public at the county government complex, as well as on the county’s website and at the public library.
She discussed with commissioners and several local residents some of the more interesting aspects of the budget.
The general fund shows a total of revenue figure of $24,035,000 — the same amount as is budgeted for expenditures, according to Hudson.
“It is a balanced budget,” she said.
Tax revenue makes up 79 percent of the general fund revenue, she pointed out.
“The budget is based on property tax revenue of $13.84 million,” Hudson said.
She said the LOST revenue amount for the upcoming year was projected to total $5 million.
The Intergovernmental Revenue in the new proposed county budget is set at $1,822,000.
“We are always actively seeking opportunities for grant funding to offset the cost of general fund expenditures,” Hudson said.
Charges for services, meanwhile, will remain the same in 2022 as they were in the 2021 county budget. The figure stands at $2,079,000.
Fines and forfeitures are expected to increase a little bit in FY’22, the assistant county manager said.
“We had a decrease in 2021, obviously, because of the court situation from COVID-19,” Hudson said.
She believes those figures will increase back up to around where they were the previous year.
All other revenues in the general fund are expected to be about $95,000.
Hudson provided a graph concerning the makeup of the revenue sources for the general fund budget.
She said the larger piece of the pie represented property tax, and then the other big piece was Local Option Sales Tax, while another much smaller piece is for other taxes collected by the county.
Property taxes make up the biggest portion — about 79 percent, Hudson said.
Another graph showed an interesting trend over the years concerning the county’s dependency on property tax revenue.
In 2013, property tax revenue made up about 48 percent of the general fund budget, Hudson said.
But in the proposed 2022 county budget, it makes up about 58 percent.
“So, what that tells us is that other sources of revenue declined over the years — like charges for services, and fines and forfeitures, and our dependence on property tax and general tax increases,” Hudson said.
The major highlights from the general fund expenditures — first and foremost — are increases in each individual budget to keep the current level of service, whether it be from fuel cost to electricity cost or supplies, she said.
“Those things have increased and the increases are in the budgets for those particular items,” Hudson said. “There’s also some adjustments with the pay grades of certain positions to make them more competitive.”
Some of those positions are in general services, as well as in some public works positions.
“We did have a pretty hefty increase for our benefits this year and for retirement and insurance costs,” Hudson said. “And, of course, those will be evaluated this year to see if there is anything we can do to adjust that and to decrease or stop that increase.”
Two years ago, county commissioners put into place the Defined Contribution Plan, which will help in what Hudson called a dramatic way down the road.
The plan is not expected to be realized for another four or five years, she said.
“There is funding for 3.5 new full-time equivalent positions — one position full-time in the District Attorney’s Office for an investigator,” Hudson said.
Commissioners also will be funding a half more of a salary of the same amount budgeted last year for an assistant prosecutor in the Baldwin County Solictor General’s Office.
“The remaining portion of that job is included in the (2022 proposed) budget,” Hudson said.
The proposed budget also will include funding for two new positions in the Baldwin County Elections Office, which were approved by commissioners in March of this year.