County talks amendments

Published 4:15 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There are six constitutional amendments on the November ballot, including one local amendment that would allow trustees of the county’s oil and gas severance trust to loan funds to the county.
On Monday, commissioners explained the local amendment would be specifically for economic development, roads and bridges and other capital improvement projects. The amendment would also authorize other investments as otherwise provided for by local law.
“It would also require the money to be repaid,” Chairman David Stokes said.
Commissioner Larry White said the trust fund “has been a real asset.”
Created by legislation in 1984, the law states the county has access to 80 percent of the interest generated and 20 percent must be reinvested in the trust. To ensure fund safety, monies must be invested in either U.S. Treasury notes or certificates of deposit that are secured to protect the principal.
“Because the interest has supplemented the general fund, and up until many years ago, had been a significant amount,” he said. “That’s not the case now.”
The $7.4 million trust fund earns an interest rate of 0.72 percent and is limited in the way it is invested, county administrator Tony Sanks said.
“This amendment would allow the county to borrow from the trust fund for a 15-year period and repay it at 1 percent above the U.S. Treasury rate,” Sanks said. “It would allow us to borrow at a lesser rate than from a bank but pay back at a higher rate.”
The amendment is the last one on the ballot, Sanks said.
While giving their support to the local ballot, the commission did voice their opposition to the second amendment on the ballot, which, if passed, would allow for renovations of the state’s National Guard Armories using funds from the Education Trust Fund.
Commissioners approved a resolution of opposition to the amendment since the legislation did not include a means to repay the funds.
“Cities and counties also get a portion of the interest in that fund,” Sanks said. “So if that is approved that means less revenue because there is a stipulation that the money be paid back.”
Amendment No. 1 asks voters to decide whether or not to “prohibit the state from giving full faith and credit to public acts, records, or judicial proceedings of another state that violate the public policy of the State of Alabama and to prohibit the application of foreign law in violation of rights guaranteed natural citizens by the United States and Alabama Constitutions, and the statutes, laws, and public policy thereof, but without application to business entities.”
Amendment No. 3 asks voters to “provide that every citizen has a fundamental right to bear arms and that any restriction on this right would be subject to strict scrutiny; and to provide that no international treaty or law shall prohibit, limit, or otherwise interfere with a citizen’s fundamental right to bear arms.”
Amendment No. 4 asks voters to “prohibit a general law, whose purpose or effect is to require a new or increased expenditure of at least $50,000 of local funds annually, from becoming effective with regard to a city or county board of education without enactment by a 2/3 vote.”

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