Council divvies out monies

Monday, November 5, 2007

Money did the walking and talking during Monday night's meeting of the Clay County Council.

Numerous additional appropriations were made to allow needs for the county to be completed.

Out of the County General Fund, $51,000 went to the Sheriff's department for the purchase of two four-wheel drive vehicles to replace older vehicles, $15,000 went to the commissioners to pay for legal services used to work on a new handbook for county employees, $18,000 was appropriated to the Superior Court for public defender fees incurred through work on a record number of judgment appeals filed this year and $9,000 went for facilities for the potential purchase of a mobile vertical lift.

The money for the new sheriff's vehicles and mobile vertical lift came from a $65,000 reduction made during the meeting from the jail meals portion of the sheriff's fund.

"The State Board of Accounts sets the cost for inmate meals at $2 per meal, but the cost we end up paying is about 85 cents per meal, so we have a large surplus in that account," Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton said. "We also had a large surplus last year which we gave back to the County General Fund."

The council also approved a $20,000 additional appropriation from the Highway Fund for insurance on building and structures, $1,500 from the same fund for the cost of mileage incurred by administration and $50,000 from the Local Road and Street Fund for road materials and to pay for outstanding bills.

A total of $4,842 was also transferred within various county funds to help compensate for extra expenses not anticipated in the budget.

The council also took final action on a tax abatement for the Headwaters project.

After much discussion about concerns over giving the company a 10-year personal property abatement with the possibility of the company finishing operations in 10 or less years. However, the abatement was unanimously approved after deciding that since they approved the length on the first reading of the abatement last month, they should stick to what they originally agreed to.

The abatement relieves the company from paying the property taxes in the first year, then slowly phases in the tax over the length of the abatement and the company must pay the entire tax amount by the end of the abatement.

In this case, Headwaters will pay 10 percent of the tax in its second year of operations, 20 percent in the third year and so on.

The abatement also comes with a clawback agreement in which the county can retrieve tax money from the company should they not be in compliance or cease operations before the end of the agreement. If the company is not in compliance with the terms they set in the abatement at any time, the county can prorate the amount of abated tax based on performance. For example, if the company promises to hire 10 new employees, but only hires five, the county can reduce the amount of the abatement that year by half.

Also, should the company cease operations or leave the area in the eighth year of a 10-year abatement, the county can "clawback" and retrieve all abated tax money from the company for all eight years the abatement was in effect.

For their final act of the night, the council appointed Council President Mick McCullough to the City of Brazil Economic Development Commission.

The next meeting of the Clay County Council will be Monday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. in the Commissioner's Court of the Clay County Courthouse.

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