Mobile County workers to get part of $2M surplus

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -  Mobile County workers will benefit from a nearly $2 million surplus in the county budget.

County commissioners received an overview Wednesday, February 19 of the 2013 End of Year Report from Finance Director Michelle Herman.

After all the spending was done for 2013, the county was left with a $1.9 million unrestricted balance. It’s money the county commissioners can spend any way they choose.

When the county switches to a new insurance plan in March, workers will have two premium payments. The commissioners have agreed to use the money to pay the second payment for workers, and give employees a $500 bonus.

“It’s not fair to them, to have to make two premium payments, obviously. So we feel that with that unrestricted balance that we have that is certainly a good expenditure and a fair way to treat our employees. In addition to that, they will have new deductibles to meet, so we have elected to give them a $500 bonus per employee to help with those cost as well,” Commissioner Connie Hudson said.

Hudson said Mobile County Metro Jail will also get some of the money.

“There are some additional costs that we’re seeing at the jail dealing with their health and food contracts. These are not expenditures that can be reduced, so we have to cover those costs,” she said.

After listening to what sounded like a positive overview from the finance director, FOX10 News asked Herman how the county seemed to avoid the crisis budget issues seen in the city.

“You know, the county and the city both get revenue from the same sources, so we all face the same challenge. We have been lucky enough to get all of our elected officials and all of department heads pulling together, making sacrifices, and making it work,” Herman said.

Herman and the commissioners agree the year 2013 was a tight for the county, and they expect the same for 2014.

Commission President Merceria Ludgood said most of the “extra” money was the result of a increase in the collection of delinquent taxes, not new growth in the county.

“The real story here is it was not based on growth. Some of it was onetime money, and going into our 2014 fiscal year we’re still having to be very careful about how we spend out money,” Ludgood said.

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