The St. Clair County Commission passed its 2010 budget during its regular meeting Tuesday.

The $34.2 million budget reflects a positive outlook for the county, its employees and citizens. Included in the budget is a 3-percent cost of living raise for all employees and officials and the continuance of 100-percent county funded benefits.

Health and dental insurance costs increased by 8 percent for the year resulting in a premium amount of just over $3 million.

“We are very pleased to be in the sound financial shape we are in,” said Commission Chairman Stan Batemon. “Diligent management of county funds on all levels, from our department heads on down, has helped us maintain a healthy financial status and we, as a Commission, are pleased to approve the three percent raise and to be able to continue to offer a premium benefits package at no additional cost to the employee.”

Other noteworthy items in the FY10 budget include:

* Financial assistance to the City of Springville to support the creation of a Senior Program in that city

* Two new deputies funded through a partnership with the St. Clair County School Board and a Safe Schools grant

* Level funding for agencies such as the ARC of St. Clair County, Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging, KidOne Transport, county libraries, Alabama Cooperative Extension, Animal Shelter of Pell City, St. Clair Fire and EMS Association, and others.

While sales tax revenues are down slightly due to the economic climate, ad valorem taxes continue to rise in St. Clair.

The FY10 budget reflects a conservative estimate for both sales tax and ad valorem revenues with sales tax holding steady and ad valorem estimated to rise another eight percent over FY09.

“While our neighbors are announcing layoffs and budget cuts, St. Clair is offering raises and has no intentions of lying off personnel,” Batemon said. “At a time when other local governments are cutting funding to outside agencies, St. Clair County is able to offer the same level of funding we have in the past. Overall, the financial climate in St. Clair County is a healthy one. The financial leadership of our commissioners, their love and dedication to the welfare of this county and its people has brought St. Clair County to a point financial strength and stability and should lead it into the future.”

Projected revenues for the next fiscal year are $451,675. Revenues from municipalities increased from two to five percent based upon call data, growth and workload. Expenditures are projected to be $1.5 million. Transfers In will supplement fund with $450,000 transferred in from General Fund and $595,854 transferred in from E-911 Fund. Payroll increases included a one step, three percent COLA, benefit increases, step increases and longevity.

The total debt service for FY10 is just over $2 million. It includes a general obligation warrant of $584,053, a $152,534 note on the Bass Pro Shop agreement, $502,865 for the Ashville Courthouse renovation, $312,885 for gas tax anticipation warrants and $280,580 for Coosa Valley Water.

As for major departments and services within the county:

* County Commission expenditures increased eight percent due primarily to the planned purchase of time and attendance software and equipment and cost of living assessment (COLA) increases for employees, as well as benefit increases.

* Probate Judge expenditures increased five percent due to COLA, benefit increases, and pay grade adjustment and retiree benefits for one employee. Expenditures for software changeover carried over into FY10.

* Revenue Commissioner expenditures increased 13 percent due to COLA, benefit increases, pay grade adjustment, and retiree benefits for one employee.

* Flood Management expenditures increased one percent due to COLA and benefit increases. The report noted that $85,000 has been appropriated for flood plain elevation certificates.* Courthouses/Facilities Maintenance expenditures increased 14 percent due to COLA, benefit increases, ductless air conditioning for server room at Pell City Courthouse ($7,000), and changing part-time employee to full-time.

*Courthouse Annex/Administrative Center had a decrease of six percent but will include seal and striping of the parking lot at a cost of $3,000.

* Sheriff expenditures increased nine percent due to COLA, benefit increases, personnel restructuring, and two new School Resource Officers through a partnership with St. Clair County School Board on a Safe Schools Grant.

* Jail expenditures decreased one percent.

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