Lee County Commission Approves Fiscal Year Budgets

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BY HANNAH LESTER
HLESTER@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

LEE COUNTY —

The Lee County Commission approved the fiscal year 2022-23 budget Monday night.

Six items were were frequented by the county and proposed by District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham related to the budget and approved.

The budget has a total proposed budgeted revenue of just over $58,338,000  — an increase of 9.35%. The total expenditures are just over $66,830,000 — an increase of 11.61%.

In addition to approving the total budget, the county approved a 5.75% cost of living pay increase for county employees. 

“We have wonderful employees and I’d like to keep them all,” Ham said. 

The increase will go into effect Oct. 8.

Also benefiting county employees was the approved merit raises of 2, 3 and 4%, based on performance.

The coroners salary was raised to $36,000 and the deputy chief deputy coroner’s pay to $18,000.

“It’s way overdue and thank you for stepping up to take that job,” Ham said to Daniel Sexton, who was appointed special coroner following Coroner Bill Harris’ death in July. 

A major expenditure approved by the county was the funding for the Auburn University Airport Safety Zone Expansion Project that Lee County agreed to help with, along with the city of Auburn, the city of Opelika and the Indian Pines Golf Course.

“With the way the airport is expanding, we definitely need to do this,” said District 5 Commissioner Richard LaGrand. 

The commission approved $500,000 to be paid over 5 years for that project. 

Twenty-three new positions were approved for the county as well. 

The county approved $1.45 million in appropriations and services contracts that were listed by the county, all of which can be found on the county’s website in the budget. They also approved action carry into the next year actions that will allow the county to appropriate that $1.45 million. 

Other appropriations will be approved as they come up.

The commission set two work-sessions to discuss appropriations. One for Oct. 11 at the Lee County Commission meetings and a second, if-needed,  meeting for Oct. 13 at 5 p.m. 

The county can ask outside agencies to appear and provide more information if necessary, said County Administrator Holly Leverette.

 OTHER BUSINESS:  

– LaGrand provided an update on the park benches at the Loachapoka park, which have now been installed.

– The Jefferson County EMA attended and recognized the help the Lee County EMA provided to Jefferson County during the 2022 World Games in Birmingham.

– Ham added an item to the agenda and the commission approved providing a certificate to Mary Newman, who is turning 100, and any other Lee County who turn 100.

–  The county approved to resolutions relating to the American Rescue Plan Act funding. Firstly, they approved a resolution to allocate funding in the form of grants to nonprofit entities. Secondly, they approved the adoption of implementation policies and procedures for providing assistance.

– The commission approved the EMA Building Change Order, with needed expenditure of over $37,300 to complete the new EMA building. 

– The commission heard an update from John McDonald on the county’s trash plan. The county has now phased out the north-east side of the county’s trash collection sites. More will follow — on Oct. 11 the sites on  Highway 51, 039, 166 and 175 will close. On Nov. 7 the Smiths Station sites will close on Lee Road 240 and Highway 280 at Lee Road 249.

– The commission approved  educational reimbursement requests for the Sheriff’s Department.

– The commission heard from Heath Corbett on a public nuisance complaint.

– The commission approved a list of insolvents for business licensing agreements.

– The commission approved the FY 2022-2023 Highway Maintenance Bids and Extensions.

– The commission heard information from John McDonald on garbage billing fees.

– The commission approved an Animal control Services Agreement for animal impoundment with a price increase per animal of $19.90.

– The commission approved the signing of the Safety Incentive Verification Form to participate in the Safety Incentive Discount Program with the ACCA.

The Lee County Commission meets on the second and last Monday nights of every month. Meetings are held in the courthouse annex at 5 p.m. in the commission chambers on the second floor.

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