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Alamo Asks County To Help Resolve Issue

Alamo City Manager Jeff Floyd came before the Wheeler County Commission last week to ask for its help in resolving a problem that could substantially impact the town’s finances — perhaps by up to $1.6 million — over the next few years.

At the County’s regular monthly session on December 5, Floyd asked the Commission to consider returning to the City approximately $164,000 in insurance premium taxes allocated by the State Insurance Commission. The funds were directly deposited into the County’s general fund account by the State Insurance Commission in October.

“I am point blank asking to get the funds returned,” Floyd told Commissioners.

Floyd explained that the misallocation was due to an error in the 2020 Census compilation that erroneously credited the Wheeler Correctional S Facility population of over 2,000 inmates to the County rather than to the City of Alamo. When the prison was built in 1998, it was located on property annexed by the City of Alamo, and since that time the prison population was tabulated as part of the City’s total population in the Census.

Multiple funds and grants, including the state premium tax, are allocated based on the population reported in the Census, and municipalities are heavily dependent on this money. The state premium tax alone constitutes 20% of the Alamo’s annual general fund. In 2021, this tax amounted to $232,317.69, but in 2022 the amount decreased to $64,161.17.

Floyd said after the State Insurance Commission allocation deposited in October in Alamo’s account was substantially less than expected, he began making calls to the Census Bureau and State Insurance Commission to try and sort out the deficit. Several phone calls and emails later, he surmised that an incorrect prison address and miscalculated survey during Census taking probably led to the error, but correcting this misinformation would require an involved and lengthy process.

Floyd is now working with the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission to complete an application to appeal the census count for the prison population. “We have 90 days to file this appeal,” he said. At the moment, he does not have an indication of when the matter could be resolved, but because of what is at stake over the next nine years, until a new Census is conducted, fixing the current problem is essential.

“The problem was not caused by us (the City of Alamo) or the County,” Floyd said. In the meantime, he is hoping the County will simply return the funds to the City of Alamo coffers. “The County got a plus and we got a minus. We are asking for some kind of compromise, a middle ground, some kind of agreement. I think we can work together to make it right. Alamo is part of the County and both the City and County get revenue from the prison.”

County Commissioner Danny Clark, who said he was just hearing of the issue at the County’s meeting, responded to Floyd, “What’s right is right.”

County Attorney Perry Avery replied, “Just get us the numbers.” Commission Chair Keith McNeal said later that the County will respond once figures for the exact amount in question is furnished by the State Insurance Commission.

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