County financially stable

Some Shelby County residents are unaware of this story. Others try to forget or really do not want to repeat the story.

In 1993, the Shelby County government was broke.

There was no money in the bank and the county was defaulting on numerous loans, including a $22.5 million sewer debt and liens on the county courthouse, to name just a few.

A bankruptcy petition was quietly drafted and circulated among county leaders. Shelby County was the poster child for poor financial mismanagement on the local government level.

Fast forward to 2009, after those lessons were learned by the County Commission and staff. Shelby County is the only county in the State of Alabama (and one of a select few in the Southeast) that has the highest credit rating possible. The budget is balanced and the county maintains a reasonable reserve fund.

Until this past year, the county paid cash for all capital projects, including more than $20 million for the new jail.

Only recently did the County Commission borrow money for the new water plant, after selling the sewer plant to apply proceeds to the cost.

The citizens of Shelby County can be proud of the financial management of their government over the past 15 years.

Now, the Commission faces a new challenge. Who would have thought that Shelby County would have seen such decreases to various tax revenues?

After all, this county was the growth engineer of the state, and yet sharp declines in sales taxes, building fees and personal property tax are a reality.

In the coming year, due to collecting in arrearages, the County Commission anticipates a sharp decline in property tax.

Adjustments have been made to last year’s and this year’s budget to accommodate the declining income. Positions within the government have been left unfilled.

Capital projects, with the exception of a county-wide communications system, have been discontinued.

Grant programs have been unfunded. The reality of the current financial situation is difficult. While services have not been reduced or diminished, any extras will cease for the time being.

The reduction in income is not good, but the good news is that lessons learned over the past 15 years have prepared the County Commission and staff to address and accommodate the changing conditions.