Polk County Finance Committee

Polk County Superior Court Clerk Stacie Baines brought information before the Polk County Finance Committee about the likelihood of increased costs in her office due to upcoming court cases.

The Polk County Commission will be considering a new round of budgeting for bigger purchases on the 2020 Capital Improvement list, and heard from the county’s Superior Court Clerk and Probate Court Judge about the need for increased help in a busy calendar ahead.

Commissioners on the finance committee met during an hours long session at the county administrative offices mid-month to hear first from the pair of delegates seeking additional help from the county as the business of the courts increases.

Superior Court Clerk Stacie Baines was first to come before the committee, and started by pointing out the amount of work her office is going to see is going up based on forthcoming murder trials, and additional weeks on the calendar per month to cut down on the number of backlogged misdemeanor-based cases facing the Tallapoosa Circuit locally.

She added that it was always her intent to keep costs to taxpayers down as much as possible, but that with forthcoming additional court dates on the calendar for misdemeanor court and the need for part time help to provide help with capital trials coming up this year, she wanted to make the commission aware of the situation ahead of time.

“I would like to know in december what my game plan is, and come January 1 put in play,” Baines said.

Baines also pointed out that she is being proactive in pushing for cash bond payments to the court, as it helps increase the money coming into the courts and ultimately the county coffers.

Probate Court Judge Linda Smith came to seek help for her court as well. Along with issues finding space to handle the variety of criminal and civil filings coming before her court, she also is seeking new hires in her office to help with both paperwork going through her court, and someone able to focus completely on serving the public.

Commissioners added that they hadn’t forgotten requests about payscale adjustments in her office and others throughout the county government.

The committee also discussed potential adjustments in funding for the 2020 capital improvement projects list, requests generated by each department annually for equipment needs such as new vehicles for public safety and public service officials, and projects that go beyond the normal course of general fund spending.

Committee chair and Commissioner Scotty Tillery asked members to go over the list after a discussion of some of the requests, including an explanation of the status of projects in process or completed from the 2019 list that carried over to this year.

The committee also discussed how departments might seek to reduce costs across the 41 different buildings owned by the county on utility costs, with a majority of the focus on electric and natural gas payment increases in past months.

Finance Director Muriel Dulaney requested the committee come together and seek ways to reduce lighting and heating costs across the county, with a focus on installing items like motion sensors and energy efficient lighting to help bring down some of those increases.

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