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Commissioners add member; approve $48M 2021 budget

Commissioners add member; approve $48M 2021 budget

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Sarah Griffin Brown said she has “some big shoes to fill” after being sworn in as the newest Lee County commissioner Monday night.

Brown will serve out the term of Johnny Lawrence, the longtime District 2 fixture who succumbed to COVID-19 earlier this summer.

“Johnny Lawrence was a friend, he was an encourager and he was a great person. I wanted to fill his term serving this community, and I hope I do it with the same passion he did,” Brown said.

Gov. Kay Ivey appointed Brown last week, per state law. She is chairwoman for the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, and she previously served on the Auburn City Planning Commission and as an officer with the Auburn Downtown Merchants Association.

Brown has been married to Drew Brown for 24 years. They have three children – sons Morgan and Griffin are both students at Auburn University, and her daughter Alana attends Auburn High School.

2021 budget OK'ed

The commissioners approved a $48.4 million county budget for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins Oct. 1.

Revenues are projected to rise 5.7 percent, and the budget includes cost-of-living pay increases for employees and higher health insurance costs.

County Administrator Roger Rendleman told commissioners that, unlike Lee County’s cities and schools, the county government doesn’t rely on sales tax revenues for half of its income. Therefore, he didn’t project as big a hit to the money available to cover overhead as the other local entities are expecting.

The continuing strength in the local real estate market has been good for the county, more so than the cities and schools, because the county derives more revenues from property taxes.

Rendleman did tell Commissioner Robert Ham that he was concerned about a possible rental slump in Auburn due to the overbuilding of student housing. However, such an effect on downtown would take a couple of years to show up on the county’s property tax collections.

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