Lodging tax to benefit road funding

Published 4:00 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Pike County Commission “made history” Monday when by unanimous vote commissioners approved setting aside lodging tax revenues specifically for road repairs.

In passing the FY2016 budget, commissioners agreed to set aside half the anticipated revenues from the new lodging tax for local roads. The remaining 50 percent will be set aside for a rainy day fund.

Commissioner Joey Jackson proposed that 50 percent should go into a rainy day fund to be spent where needed, and the other 50 percent should go in a fund for the local roads.

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“Those roads are just as important as anything else,” Jackson said. “It’s just like a roof leaking. If this roof was leaking, we would do something about it.”

No money can be spent from the rainy day fund or the local roads fund without the approval of at least four commission members.

“Four of us have to vote to spend it,” Jackson said. “It’s not like it’s going anywhere.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the line item, eager to be proactive with the budget.

“That’s a great idea,” said Commissioner Robin Sullivan. “We would be acting proactively.”

The line item will be implemented in this year’s budgets and in all following budgets.

“We made history tonight by adding a line item for local roads in our budget,” Jackson said. “This is the first time that Pike County has made a fund for the roads.”

The budget also includes a 4 percent raise in employee salaries. The raise was put into place to offset the increase in health insurance costs for employees, according to Commissioner Jimmy Barron.

Probate Judge Wes Allen said after the meeting he plans to decline the raise.

“Our team in the probate office works hard every day to find ways to cut red tape and to make government more efficient,” Allen said. “When I ran for probate judge, I vowed to the voters that I would be frugal with the dollars that the taxpayers send to this office, and I promised to operate based on fiscally conservative principles. Due to that vow to the people of Pike County, I must respectfully decline the 4 percent COLA raise.”

In other business, Jeanna Barnes, Pike County EMA director, announced that there is chance that the EMA could lose approximately 50 percent of its funding due to the $700,000 cut to the state EMA.

“For us that would be about $17,000 dollars,” Barnes said.

Barnes presented a document to the commissioners to show what actions she is taking to cut back on expenses in preparation for the possible cut.

She said she is unsure when they will know for sure if Pike County will see that cut or not.

The commission also approved the request to suspend rules to advertise for a part-time temporary position.

They also approved the Pike County communications board member appointments and the S&W minicomputers contract renewal 2015-16.

Commissioners voted to cancel the scheduled meeting on Oct. 12 due to the Columbus Day holiday.