County's new budget checks all of the legal boxes to move forward

Commissioner Shannon Whitfield officially adopted Walker County's 2018 budget on Nov. 30.

Messenger photo/Josh O'Bryant

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield authorized the official adoption of the general budget for 2018 during the Thursday, Nov. 30, commissioner's meeting in LaFayette.

The county budget was effectively adopted in October, but due to a state law advertising error, the commissioner readopted the budget at his latest meeting on Nov. 30.

The adoption was delayed due to an objection raised in October due to its legality.

On Oct. 5, Clerk of Court Carter Brown, said, "On behalf of myself, the other constitutional officers, other county officials, .... we want to inform you that we object to this budget and that we bring into question the legality of the process that you are following to adopt this budget."

The commissioner was soon informed the objection was in regards to making the new budget available seven days in advance and the need to hold three advertised public meetings on it.

If a copy of the budget is asked for review, the commissioner must make it available seven days in advance of when the budget is approved, Whitfield said in October.

"Basically, what happened is that I messed up the first time — just plain and simple. We spent a lot of time working on the millage (property tax) rate and there are procedures we have to follow by state law for advertising and so forth. We are required to have three public hearings. We had five. Most of them lasted over three hours apiece. We had very good attendance and very good participation," Whitfield said. "I did not realize (and) lost track of how we had to advertise them separately for the budget and so we actually passed the budget in October and we didn't do the proper procedures to meet the state laws. So it was brought to our attention, so we wanted to go back and correct that, get it documented correctly, do the advertizing. We did have the public meeting at our last meeting on November 9. There was no public comment or concern or question, at all, from anyone, so we're kind of doing this as housekeeping."

Whitfield said no changes have been made to the budget since its Oct. 5 presentation.

"It's just a rookie mistake that I made that we publically wanted to get corrected," said Whitfield, who took office in January.