Commissioners Discuss SC Appraisal District Budget; Amend Personnel Policy

July 8, 2020 - The Shelby County Commissioners spoke with Bobby Pigg, Shelby County Appraiser, on the Shelby County Appraisal District 2021 budget during their July 1, 2020 meeting.

"We have been tasked by the legislature and the governor to not go up on taxes and they've made it pretty plain that they don't intend for us to go up on taxes," said County Judge Allison Harbison. "Therefore, this year we are holding steady, hopefully we'll be able to keep the same budget we had last year, so we aren't anticipating any raises for anyone this year."

Judge Harbison further stated it's the expectation of the court for county offices to tighten up their efforts and reduce expenditures as much as possible.

With all of the taxing entities in the county funding the budget for the appraisal district, Judge Harbison wanted their budget to be discussed in court. She explained the county is responsible for over 35% of the appraisal district's budget.

Pigg asked if the court had any questions for him and Judge Harbison reiterated her earlier statement the commissioners don't want to see any raises this year. Pigg said the budget was a preliminary one, and his office has lost one full-time employee with those duties being absorbed by other staff members.

"We are still below 2018, the amount that we had in salaries and wages in 2018, it is still less in 2021 than it was in 2018," said Pigg. "Our biggest expenses this year that really y'all should be concerned about is the attorney's fees which are going to be astronomical, we're finding out at this point."

According to Pigg, the appraisal district has what he referred to as a contingency fund which previously had around $70,000 in it, but now is down to around just under $36,800.

Judge Harbison stated on behalf of the commissioners they would prefer to see the appraisal district keep their budget where it was in the previous year. Commissioner Roscoe McSwain said he felt it wasn't right for the appraisal district to receive raises when no one else in the county will be receiving raises.

Pigg referred back to legal cases the county is facing which he expects will be very expensive to fund. One of those cases is the JW Powers case. He stated he's concerned over attorney's fees this year, since the JW Powers has yet to be resolved.

"JW Powers, y'all are aware, to the county is like y'all will end up paying $350,000 back, the schools are looking at $750,000 and that's now that they've filed a lawsuit we're looking at plus interest if we lose the battle," said Pigg.

The discussion continued into the potential future of the appraisal district office, staff, and looked forward to the Tuesday, July 7 meeting of the Shelby County Appraisal District Board.

The commissioners discussed the revision of the Shelby County Personnel Policy regarding vacation accrual balances according to years of service. Judge Harbison said there was some confusion in the policy and Clint Porterfield, County Auditor, brought this to her attention.

"There was a misconception in the wording that possibly someone who had worked less than 16 years could accrue up to 20 days of vacation, and that is not how the personnel policy was supposed to be interpreted and that is certainly not how the system is working," said Porterfield.

A motion carried and the commissioners approved the revision of the personnel policy.

During the meeting a motion carried to approve switching from DISA to DATCS for drug testing.

Commissioner Charles Barr explained the difference is it would put the county drivers in a larger testing pool.

"That way they're not continually calling our guys in," said Barr.

Testing will still occur locally as it has already been.

According to previous testing, the county has 12 CDL drivers and average 12 drug tests a year with the annual fee being $295. With DATCS the annual cost would be a little higher at $324 annually and would be a pool of 10,000 drivers which will likely decrease the amount of tests performed. Although each plan has an annual fee there is a charge for each individual test, which should be decreased with the new testing company.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:49am.