Madison Co. looks for ways to save taxpayer money - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison Co. looks for ways to save taxpayer money

At a special work session Wednesday, commissioners discussed several items that could save taxpayer money. At a special work session Wednesday, commissioners discussed several items that could save taxpayer money.

Madison County Commissioners are starting out the New Year by looking for new ways to save taxpayer money. At a special work session Wednesday, they discussed several items on their to-do list for 2014.

First on the agenda were the district's petty cash accounts. Commissioners said making a purchase order for a low-cost item often costs more than the item itself.

"They have to get a purchase order and [it] has to be taken to wherever they are making the purchase. In many cases, they might need to go to the gas station next door and get a light bulb, but that facility does not accept a purchase order from Madison County," said Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

The idea is to set up a fund that gives the flexibility to let each district buy items that cost $25 or less without going through the purchase order process.

Commissioners are also working out the details of an agreement with Huntsville Utilities that will secure a cost-effective, quality water source for years to come. Under the deal, Madison County would get to use the utility company's new water treatment facility while purchasing 2 million gallons of water per day.

"It is required now that if you construct an additional well, a water treatment facility must be built. To build a new facility will cost somewhere around $15-20 million for each well. It appears that teaming with Huntsville Utilities will save us money down the road," said Strong.

Lastly, commissioners are looking for ways to save money on courthouse security during the weekend. They said having a security staff there during that time is not necessary since the public cannot access the courthouse. They are considering a key fob-type system instead.

After a 2013 audit over mishandled money, commissioners want to change a decades-old policy to make sure it doesn't happen again.

A 1980 law called the Private Work Act allows Madison County to do repair projects for residents outside the city limits. Commissioners want to reform that policy to create some checks and balances.

This comes after an audit revealed misuse of money within the District 3 office of former County Commissioner Jerry Craig. The audit said a county employee in that office created an off-the-books bank account for the money from those private projects.

The employee in question has been terminated and the case has been turned over to the attorney general. Now commissioners want to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"I believe that the private enterprise is more capable of doing this service. It would be my recommendation to abolish this service. We've got to make some clear decisions to remedy this so it does not happen again," Strong said.

The issue is expected to be discussed at upcoming meetings.

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