Calhoun County Jail

The Calhoun County Jail. 

Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

Calhoun County Commissioners on Thursday approved a $17.5 million budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which includes rising costs for the county jail and inmate medical care.

That $17.5 million budget is a 10 percent increase from the county’s 2017 fiscal year budget of $15.8 million.  

Melissia Wood, interim county administrator, said the budget approved at Thursday’s meeting includes $730,000 for county jail inmate medical care, about $210,000 more than last year. The county’s cost to provide medical care for inmates has risen for several years.

Commissioners in August agreed to send inmates to a local urgent-care clinic rather than to emergency rooms, as had been the practice. Commissioners said then that doing so would save the county money.

The county’s budget also shows an increase from last year’s of about $130,000 in the cost of running the county jail. The county expects to spend about $3.6 million operating the jail in the 2018 fiscal year. The Sheriff’s Office and jail operations make up about 48 percent of the county’s budget.

Wood said she expects the county to see a moderate $30,000 increase in property tax collections next year, and an increase in liquor tax collections, but the liquor tax money — about $300,000 — will go directly to the Calhoun and Cleburne County District Attorney’s Office.

The county also expects to collect about $300,000 next year in sales taxes generated by online purchases.

Alabama’s Simplified Use Tax program, established in 2015, allows eligible online-only retailers to voluntarily join the program and pay a flat 8 percent tax rate instead of the local sales and use taxes paid by brick-and-mortar stores.

The large online retailer Amazon joined the tax program in November 2016, which increased the county’s collection of those taxes by about 500 percent from the four previous quarters.    

In other business, commissioners:

- Agreed to apply to the Medicaid for County Inmates Program, which allows inmates who were receiving Medicaid prior to incarceration to continue receiving the federal aid in jail.

- Approved a one-time bonus payment to county retirees at a cost to the county of $72,982.

- Declared a 1997 Ford Crown Victoria and 2004 International truck as surplus.

- Accepted the Alexandria roads Valley Trail Lane, Valley Forge Lane, Vista Lane and Spring Brook Drive into the county’s care.

- Approved a three-year contract with the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce that will send 75 percent of the county’s lodging tax collections to the chamber.

- Agreed to accept $12,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency.

- Agreed for the county to manage funds for the Calhoun-Cleburne Mental Health Board, which are used to pay for crisis-intervention services.

- Agreed to abate nuisances at 207 Central City Circle near Anniston, 3110 Gaines St. near Anniston, 141 Arika Lane near Ohatchee, 1136 Rhodes St. near Anniston, 1021 W. 53 St. near Anniston, 1001 Owosso Ave. near Weaver, 15 New Prospect St. near Anniston and 2700 Simpson St. near Anniston.

-Declared as nuisances 513 Loy St. near Anniston, 620 Inglewood Drive near Anniston, 1501 Stonecreek Drive near Weaver, 0 Ted St. near Ohatchee, 3105 Truman Ave. near Anniston and 231 Ember Lane near Weaver.  

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