Jefferson County Commission

In Search of Midnight Oil: JeffCo County Manager Preparing for Annual Budget Hearings

Jefferson County County manager Cal Markert is working on the county’s annual budget. June 27, 2023 (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

County Manager Cal Markert displayed a wry smile when asked if he is looking forward to budget hearings in August.

“I look forward to it being over and done, I guess,” he said after the Jefferson County Commission’s meeting today in Bessemer. “It’s coming up and we’ve got to do it. It’s just a lot of extra work. Not extra work but a lot of work.”

During budget hearings, department heads meet with Markert and county commissioners to make their case for requested funds during fiscal 2024. He told the panel that some department heads have requested no change to their budgets, and he’s told them they can skip the hearings unless commissioners need to speak with them.

Setting the county’s budget is an annual balancing act of determining where funds can be allotted to accomplish needed projects.

“We’ve got to weigh all the options and a lot of our project costs have gone up tremendously,” he said. “We’re going to have to figure out what to cut out, what to move out, cut out and what we can still do. We have a lot of very important projects coming up.

“That’s kind of the biggest challenge right now,” the county manager continued, “all the inflation on the construction costs. Roads, sewer projects, building projects, the whole gamut.”

As the meeting drew to a close, Lashunda Scales lobbied for more money to go into the county’s annual contribution to Crimestoppers. She said an increase in the reward offered for information toward the arrest of perpetrators could yield more information to law enforcement.

The commission approved 55 resolutions that were vetted during their committee meeting on Tuesday. Additionally, the panel approved three matters of new business:

  • Reappointing Chief Financial Officer Angela Dixon to the Cooper Green Health Services Authority board of directors.
  • Authorizing the acceptance of an amendment to the federal contract agreement between Jefferson County and the CDC Foundation. The amendment extends a grant for one year and adds $25,000 for a total of $125,000 in grant funds.
  • Acknowledging and adopting the fiscal year 2023 State Homeland Security Reimbursement Grant Program, which will be used to purchase an open vision Xray imaging system costing $97,380 by FBI-certified law enforcement bomb technicians. This unit will be used in conjunction with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

The commission met with four members Thursday. The body will be expanded to its required five members when the newest Jefferson County commissioner, Mike Bolin, is  sworn in during a ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Monday in commission chambers.