MACON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - Sen. William Beasley, D- District 28, said he believes Senate Bill 414 and House Bill 596 have an "excellent chance of passing" into law before the legislative session is over.
Beasley sponsored HB 596. SB414 is sponsored by Rep. Pebblin Warren, D- District 82. If passed, the bill would create an expense allowance for the eight of Macon County's nine elected officials. The bill allows each Macon County Commissioner, the Chair of the Macon County Commission, the Macon County Revenue Commissioner and the Macon County Sheriff to receive an extra $4,800 per year.
According to the text of the proposed legislation, this would be in addition to "all other compensation, expense allowances or benefits" gr anted to each of the state officials.
The text also states the funds can be treated as compensation for retirement contributions where applicable.
The bill passed the Senate. It has been assigned to the House Local Legislation Committee.
However, before it moves further, Macon County resident Frank Dillman said he pushed for a public hearing to be held for the bill in the House.
"I got about 250 residents to sign a petition for the meeting," Dillman said. "None of them even knew this was happening."
Dillman said he learned of the proposed legislation from an article in The Tuskegee News. He said he attempted to ask the commission, multiple times, where the funds were coming from and what they would be used for but never got an answer.
"If they're representatives of this community, they're only representing eight people," Dillman said. "Where are the other 19,000 that are not being communicated with? Though we live in a representative government, I don't see this as an example of representative government."
According to Dillman, the $38,400 could be used for improving conditions within the county. He's also concerned that the legislation doesn't specify end term or length.
However, Macon County Commission Chairman Louis Maxwell said years ago commissioners received the same amount of funding for expenses, so this would simply return the commission to previous conditions. He said the funds will be used by county officials to help with service acts that they currently do with their own money.
"We are called upon so many times to provide assistance," Maxwell said. " We meet quarterly, and the commissioners go in their pocket to provide food for all the people who attend. We are called upon to help support the community, to provide softball uniforms and things like that. Right now, we have to go in our pocket to help with that."
In response to Dillman's petition, Maxwell said he went around the community and collected about 100 signatures of support. He stated that only one person has called the county in opposition to the funding, while everyone else has been in support of it when they are made aware of how the funds will be used.
According to Maxwell, his annual salary is $61,579. Each part-time commissioner makes an annual salary of $23,274, the sheriff makes $63,000, the revenue commissioner makes $78,000 and the probate judge makes $103,000. While Dillman said these officials already each receive about $15,600 in benefits and allowances, Maxwell said that is not true. He said the additional annual $4,800 would be the only additional revenue each official receives.
The public hearing for HB596 will be held on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in room 609 at the State House.