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Enslen: Commission should abide by budget or revise it

Published 10:30am Wednesday, October 30, 2013

By KEVIN TAYLOR

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The threat of a lawsuit may have been just that, but Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen was stern in his requests and comments about how the current county commission acts as stewards of the county taxpayers’ money.

In a nine-point request, Enslen asked commissioners to authorize items the commission, itself, had already approved spending within the budget. Even after passing the budget last month, it now seems the commission is reneging on a budget which was unanimously approved.

One of the specific items, an elections specialist, was budgeted into the current fiscal year by Enslen and was passed last month, but the motion to request and advertise for and hire an elections specialist died due to a lack of motion.

“If they will not abide by the budget they passed, then they should revise the budget and allot whatever they are going to allot,” Enslen said. “If that figure is zero then the circuit court will decide if zero is reasonable and the commission will waste more of the taxpayers’ money defending that lawsuit.”

The commission elected to table two items until the next meeting, which included the elimination of a 3 percent surcharge to those wanting to purchase their vehicle tags online instead of in person to avoid the 3 percent convenience fee.

Enslen said the county collected more than $28,000 from the 3 percent surcharge “just so citizens of the county wouldn’t have to stand in lines.” Of that amount the county commission added $7,298 to its general fund.

“The use of credit cards is better for the county general fund because it reduces the number of employees that are needed to service the taxpayers,” Enslen said. “The use of credit cards reduces a county employee’s time required to deal directly with the taxpayers, or to manually put the payment into the system, or to make cash change or to collect on a bad check.”

The commission also tabled the motion for Enslen to hire a permanent part-time deputy chief clerk to replace the one who is retiring at the end of the year at that employee’s current pay rate.

Finally, the commission tabled a motion to increase the pay rate of employees in the tag and probate office by $.75 per hour.

Enslen approached then commission chairman Joe Faulk to give his employees a $1.50 pay raise which would be on the same level as other employees within the courthouse. It was later agreed to a $.75 increase this fiscal year and an additional $.75 the next fiscal year.

The raise was put into this fiscal year’s budget, but the commission has yet to act on what it approved last month.

While the commission did not act on or tabled half of the items on the meeting agenda, the commission did approve a motion for Enslen to hire a full-time tag clerk, change the status of a part-time tag clerk to full-time, approve three additional work hours per week for the deputy chief clerk before her retirement at the end of the calendar year as well as approve a motion for Enslen to advertise and hire a county archivist.

Prior to a verbal exchange between Enslen and Commissioner David Bowen (D3), it was announced that sitting Commission Chairman Joe Faulk (D4)resigned his post as chairman immediately.

Faulk will remain a member of the county commission, while Bowen was elected commission chairman. Bowen then appointed Stephanie Daniels-Smoke to be the commission vice-chair.

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