Statewide returns showed the amendment receiving approval by an almost 2-1 margin. In the county, the measure was still approved, but less impressively: Probate Judge Mike Bowling said the “yes” votes won 3,900 votes, just over 50 percent, compared to 3,782, or 49 percent, who voted “no.”
County Commission chairman Stan Batemon said he saw positive and negative in the amendment.
“The good is, they’ll be able to take that $145 million per year out of that Trust Fund and put it into the general fund, and pay for some things that were definitely going to be cut,” Batemon said. “The ones that would affect the county would’ve been the cuts in the judicial system.
“Indirectly, the cuts they’re making could’ve affected our jails – if they didn’t have room in the state prisons, it only makes sense that some of that overflow would’ve wound up in our county jails.”
Batemon noted, however, that no provision exists to repay the amount, despite Gov. Robert Bentley’s pledge to do so.
“I don’t expect it ever will be paid back,” he said. “I think we’ve got some issues, and this allows legislators to not face those issues and not take any action on them.
“We’ve salvaged the way we’re doing business for three more years, and then we’ll see what happens again. We’ve still got to answer the question on how to properly fund state government.”
Less than a week before it must pass a budget for Fiscal Year 2013, St. Clair County expects to go into the year with a fund balance of about 40 percent, according to Batemon. He said his fear is seeing the state and federal governments take advantage of that balance.
“One of my biggest job as county chairman is to keep federal and state governments from passing unfunded mandates, or from taking money that should go to counties in the first place,” he said. “And that’s going to continue to be the case.”