The Russell County Commission regular session on Wednesday was short, followed by a budget hearing held for discussion of the county’s budget. Appropriations were decided, but the final budget is still being worked out and will be voted on after the next regular session on Sept. 23. The big news is that the commission voted to approve a three-percent cost-of-living raise for county employees, which will go into effect Oct. 1.
“All the department heads, everyone, took a conservative approach this year,” County Administrator LeAnn Horne said, citing the pandemic’s effect on the budget. “I was thankful that we could at least do the three-percent.”
With the economy making a comeback, Horne doesn’t think there will be a huge negative impact to the county budget.
Commissioner Chance Corbett brought up the need for the county to hire a dedicated IT person to help coordinate the multitude of ever increasing technological needs. He pointed out that the county has been hiring contractors for every IT-related job which is expensive and has other inherent problems.
“It’s 2020, we need to take a step in the right direction and move this county in the right direction,” Corbett said. “We need to be professional in what we do. We owe it to the taxpayers…I don’t know of another business the size of Russell County that doesn’t have an IT service.”
Chair and Commissioner Gentry Lee agreed with Corbett’s stance and said it would be good for the commission to look into the matter.
Coulter Building Project
Corbett discussed the Coulter Building project plans and said he thought everyone would be blown away by the work that’s been done so far. He also alluded to an opportunity for the Coulter Building project to be linked to the Old Post Office project.
“There’s some very good things going on as far as projects for the Coulter Building,” Corbett said. “I asked that the next step be to set up a presentation to the commissioners and the city council as well to talk about these projects and how they would be funded and how it would look.”
DIXIE ELEMENTARY SIGN
Corbett is also working on a new project.
“Dixie school has a long history in this county. I think several of our parents, my parents for sure, went to that school,” Corbett said. “One thing we’ve noticed…is that the sign in front of the school is in pretty bad disrepair.”
Corbett said since the school is in his district, he challenged Russell County superintendent Dr. Brenda Coley to match any funds he was able to raise. Corbett motioned to give the remaining $5,500 from his district to the Russell County Board of Education for sole use at Dixie for a new sign upon them matching it.
For the past six months, the Sanitation Department has not had a director. County engineer Shawn Blakeney has been overseeing the department temporarily while a search has been underway for a new director. Commission Chair Gentry Lee said that the Sanitation Board voted to approve the continuance of Blakeney’s oversight for the time being since the department has been running so smoothly under his direction. The board is still looking at qualified candidates to fill the position. The commission approved the extension.