12 Apr Your County Budget
“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker
$145,811,604 is a lot of money. It serves roughly 215,000 of us here in Baldwin County, which translates into $678 each. It’s a little dry, but bear with me on the details. General Fund operations are $31M, the Sheriff’s Department is $15.5M, and Jail operations are $9.7M. Probate Operations are $3.9M, and the Revenue Commissioner is $1.7M. Highway Operations will be $45.3M in 2017/18. We have dozens of other smaller funds and expenditures from the District Attorney’s Office, Finance and Accounting, Budget and Purchasing, Emergency Management, Coroner, Computer Information Services, Building Maintenance, Animal Shelter, Building Inspection, Planning and Zoning, Library Services, Health Department, and several more. This year’s overall budget is 15% higher than the previous year due to increased values in real estate, new construction and more sales tax collected.
Unlike the federal government that continues spending recklessly, the State of Alabama and the Baldwin County Commission are required to have a balanced budget. When it comes to budgeting every year, our budget director, Ron Cink, prepares the data for each department, and we discuss every line item expenditure for our entire operation over 7 full day meetings stretching out over a few weeks. I think he can do it in his sleep, which is a little strange, but he knows it that well. The biggest ones are the Sheriff and Highway Department since they are the largest departments with the largest expenses. We manage each line, each truck, bulldozer, etc. to deliver services as efficiently as possible across each of our departments. We have argued over $1000 before, because we keep that tight of an eye on our tax money.
The State of Alabama’s Examiners Office audits us every year. When I say it is comprehensive, it is comprehensive. We have had to verify $3.00 charges. They look at everything, and we are glad for them to do so. Since 2010, the Baldwin County Commission has had zero findings of a single misappropriated dollar. Kim Creech and our finance department do a fabulous job overseeing every single transaction and expenditure, and I’m guessing they process more than 40,000 transactions per year.
Our human resources department oversees 677 full and part time employees that work for the Commission, the Probate Judge and Revenue Commissioner. The Commission employed 663 employees in 2010 (the county’s part-time folks worked through a temp agency and are not included in the 2010 count.) Personnel expenses are 22.46% of this year’s budget, which is 2.6% less than 2015’s budget. My point is that we are spending less of the overall budget on personnel and our headcount is steady from 2010 while serving roughly 35,000 more residents than we did eight years ago. This is a very strong testament to all of your Baldwin County Commissioners, Department Heads, and Supervisors to continually look to improve efficiencies in how we deliver county services and improve our quality of life daily.
Managing our resources prudently and focusing on the things that government should be doing and not doing the things we shouldn’t be, conservatively and wisely, has resulted in an excellent financial standing of your local county government. On my first day in office, we cut $3.8M of recurring annual expenses, and I have been managing our county money wisely since that first day. On October 1, 2010, the county owed $117M debt. On September 30, 2018, we will be down to approximately $61M in debt- a reduction of $56M!
I’m thankful for the work that you have let me do for these last 7 years, but I’m really proud of our directors and employees. Our team at the county is exceptional in the work they do serving Baldwin County. They are always working to improve our efficiencies. We work for you, I work for you, and I ask for your vote on June 5 to continue managing the county towards improved quality of life and better opportunities for all of our citizens.