The Mobile County Commission will vote Monday on a proposal to take a surplus from the 2013 fiscal year budget to help pay additional employee health insurance costs in April.
The county is set to change its employee health coverage, but an overlap will result in workers being responsible for two premium payments and an extra deductible payment in April. The changeover is set to save the county close to $2 million a year.
To help combat the extra employee expenses in April, County Administrator John Pafenbach recommended the county use part of a nearly $2 million surplus to pay for the additional premium and give a $500 bonus to help pay for the extra deductible payment.
Pafenbach’s recommendation would pay out nearly $800,000 to the county’s 1,600 employees and would also chip in around $400,000 from county coffers to pay for the premiums.
“I favor it,” Commission President Merceria Ludgood said of the proposal. “We’ve had some really tough times. We haven’t been able to give raises, while out-of-pocket costs have increased.”
Pafenbach also suggested that another $350,000 of the surplus be provided to the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office to pay for increased expenses at the jail.
The surplus came about, in part, from increased sales tax revenue. Finance Director Michelle Herman told the commission on Wednesday morning that sales tax receipts for fiscal year 2013 were $52,343,530.76. This was 3.56 percent more than 2012 and 4.69 percent more than what was budgeted in 2013.
“We’re happy to have the money, but not all from growth,” Herman said. “It’s due, at least in some respect, to the collection of delinquent taxes.”
The county also saw an unexpected increase in property taxes related to vehicles, Herman said. Receipts on vehicle taxes increased 11 percent over what was budgeted to $3,331,445. That number is 4 percent more than 2012 receipts.
“People are buying cars,” Herman said.
While both those areas saw increases, real property tax receipts took a tip in 2013, for the first time since the economic downturn in 2008, Herman said. Receipts for 2013 were 6 percent below what was budgeted and less than one percent of 2012 property tax receipts.