Revenues from property taxes, oil and gas taxes, and mining income have increased over the last few years, giving the Commission additional revenue while also maintaining a healthy reserve, said County Commissioner Mark Nelson.
Increase in revenues are due to population growth within Tuscaloosa county, allowing the budget to exceed $100 million.
“People got money in their pockets and their spending it,” said Assistant Financial Director April Hoffman. “Of course, if the economy takes a step back, then you might see a slowdown, we’ve been fortunate enough that that hasn’t happened.”
The budget includes a $1 million contribution to the employee’s retirement fund that is above the legally mandated amount.
“One million to the State Retirement Fund is over and above our legally mandated match amount to help reduce the underfunded state pension liability for our employees,” said Acker.
Revenue performance year to year, along with estimates on future revenue, determines what gets put into the budget.
“My priorities were to ensure that we had a balanced budget of revenues versus expenses while meeting the needs of the citizens of Tuscaloosa County,” said Acker.
Hoffman added that the estimation for each year is necessary because the rest of the budget is built off the total amount of revenue for the county.
Almost $1 million was added towards improving infrastructure and roads within Tuscaloosa.
“We have a road and bridge department that whole department is budgeted to about $22 million, but of that, a little over $5 million is going directly to paving,” said Hoffman.
Commissioners hope that the additional funding for road construction in the new budget will help reduce traffic and improve road quality.
“To keep our roads in good condition we have to invest in them on a yearly basis,” said Nelson.
Tuscaloosa has incorporated the use of the State Gas tax that took effect in September into the budget. Hoffman said the gas tax is estimated to bring in about $1 million dollars but has not been added to the new budget making it an additional $1 million on top of the budget total.
The primary functions of the County Commission are the County Courthouse, roads, and the Sheriff’s department.
“We are setting aside $800,000 for jail renovations which is something that will be kind of a long-term project,” said Hoffman.
Detention officers at the jail received about a 5% pay increase and an additional 2% increase on their pay scale. The budget also includes $300,000 towards replacing elevator controllers at the courthouse.
“This year’s budget is a testament to the current commissioners and the ones that served before us,” said Nelson.
The new budget took effect on Oct. 1.