Calhoun County Commissioners on Thursday approved a fiscal 2017 budget that includes a cost of living raise for county employees.  

The $15.8 million budget, an increase of $256,200 from last year, also includes $98,000 to pay for health insurance cost increases for county workers.

Ken Joiner, county administrator, said at Thursday’s meeting that lower gasoline prices this year meant more people bought gas, and the county’s tax revenue from gas sales increased as a result.  

The county has also spent less on gas,  used in sheriff's office vehicles, leaving more money for that cost of living raise and insurance costs, Joiner said.

“I’m just thankful we were able to give them that raise,” said county commissioner Don Hudson, a sentiment shared by other commissioners at Thursday’s meeting.

That raise comes after three years of county workers going without a pay increase, Joiner said. The 2 percent raise will cost the county about $357,229.

The 2017 budget shows a slight increase in revenues, projecting the county will receive $15.9 million next year. The sheriff's office is expected to spend the largest share of that money, with $7.9 million budgeted for next year.

Commissioners on Thursday also agreed to hire Harrelson Construction to make roof  repairs to the Piney Wood Chapel in McClellan.

It took the county some time to find a contractor willing to make those repairs to the World War II-era chapel, Joiner said. According to the contract, the roof repair is to be done at a cost of no more than $9,750.

In a moment of recognition Thursday commission chairman Tim Hodges thanked Anniston school board member and former Anniston mayor Bill Robison for his decades-long service to the community.

Hodges read a proclamation recognizing Robison’s years of service on the Anniston planning commission, the county’s bingo commission, the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board, among other entities. Robinson is the director of the county’s community corrections program.

“I’m humbled,” Robison said, speaking to the commission. “I’ve enjoyed my work. I love the city of Anniston, and I love my county.”

In other business, the commission:

- Approved a resolution allowing the county and Jacksonville City Board of Education to enter into an agreement that will allow the school board to refinance a $7.6 million 2014 bond issuance. Joiner said doing so will save the school system about $500,000 to be used to make repairs to the district's schools.  The county’s involvement in the matter relates to the collection of sales taxes passed to the school system.  

- Approved a 3-year employment contract for Charity Beechum, hired as a legal administrative assistant.

- Approved agreements to pay $622,500 in grants from the Alabama Department of Youth Services to Coosa Valley Youth Services and to the county family court success academy. The county acts as a pass-through for that state funding, Joiner said.

- Approved a bid of $27,350 to the Thompson Tractor Company to install a remanufactured motor in a county tractor.

- Extended an agreement with Diversified Computer Services for computer software for the county highway department.

- Dismissed a nuisance abatement for property at 201 Singleton Road in Anniston.

- Dismissed nuisance declaration for Anniston properties at 172 Burnett St., 1213 Carter St. and 718 Loy St.  

- Declared nuisances for properties at 5504 Saks Road in Anniston, 401 Cohaven Drive in Weaver,  and 615 South Hillman St. in Anniston.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.