The Blount County Commission voted to commit an impact fee of $100,000 to a $350,000 to $375,000 Oneonta Utilities project to screen out debris and foreign objects originating from the Blount County Jail in the sewage water flowing into the utility’s wastewater treatment facilities. (The jail is not the only source of such debris, but it is a major one.)
The action came after months of effort to solve the problem on the jail premises itself by installing flush valves on toilets to prevent the flushing of such objects into the sewer line, as well as by tightening restrictions to discourage inmates from attempting to flush such items. The effort apparently failed, since a piece of jail clothing and other debris was found at the wastewater treatment plant months after the flush valves were installed.
An agreement in principle was reached between the utility and commission to allow the commission to pay the $100,000 in monthly payments of about $1,800, beginning in October. Jail administrator Ron Adkins told the commission he thought the matter could be resolved more cheaply by further work at the jail than by responding to the utility board’s request.
Commission Chairman Chris Green thanked Adkins for his concern but said the matter had been a chronic problem for too long already, and a solution was needed without further delay. He said he is convinced following a tour of the utility’s treatment facilities, that the problem was significantly attributable to debris entering the line from the jail. He said he felt that commission participation in the proposed facilities upgrade would eliminate the problem without the need for further commission involvement. Bids rejected
The commission voted to reject two bids for construction work necessary to complete the U.S. 231 Scenic Overlook project. The low bid received was more than $100,000 above the estimated pre-bid cost of $435,000. In addition to rejecting the bids, the commission voted to remove certain requirements in the specifications and rebid the project in an attempt to complete it at or below the original estimate.
The county engineering department will handle the rebidding process inhouse (instead of paying a professional engineering firm to handle it), including changes to the required work and inspection of the final product to significantly reduce the cost of rebidding and increase the probability of project completion within required cost parameters. 911 consolidation
The commission voted to authorize consolidation of the city of Leeds emergency dispatch system with Blount County 911. The Leeds city council determined it would realize significant cost savings by consolidating its operations with Blount 911, and Blount 911 determined that it will also receive benefits from the consolidation through more efficient utilization as well as enhancements in technology, expansion of personnel to meet increased dispatching volumes, and realization of economies of scale generally.
Such consolidation is beginning to occur statewide as county and city dispatch functions are progressively regionalized. Blount 911, because of its forward-looking technical and technological capabilities, is in a position to be on the leading edge of this trend. Employee-related line items frozen
The commission voted to freeze all line items in the 2018 budget having to do with employee expenditures – e.g. employee salaries and benefits costs – at current levels, in order to facilitate valid expenditure budgeting in the upcoming budget cycle. In other matters, the commission:
• approved a proclamation expressing gratitude to the town of Linthal in the Alsace region of France. The people of that area erected a monument to 49 fallen Americans who attempted to defend their town during the invasion of German troops during World War I. During World War II, Nazi troops destroyed those monuments as they passed through the town. Now the people of the town are erecting a new monument at the site to honor the American heroes. One of those men was Lt. William Thomas Ingram of the Chepultepec community in Blount County. The commission expresses its gratitude in this resolution to the town of Linthal for their efforts to honor those men, and all others who served their country and sacrificed their lives in doing so.
• approved an extension of county personnal policy in connection with demotion and resulting pay adjustments, stipulating that if an employee is demoted, or moved – through no fault of their own – to a position with a lower pay grade, the resulting pay level established for the new position “will be equal to the third step on the lower pay grade scale, unless there is a special circumstance that must be approved by the county commission.”
• approved Blount County Community Corrections annual plan.
• approved purchase of a vibratory roller for District 1 from Thompson Tractor Company via a purchasing alliance for $125,900, to be financed from Fund 200, with a substantial payment from District 1 at the end of the current fiscal year.
• approved assigning to surplus the vibratory roller now in use by District 1 and authorized its sale by the best means possible. Budget amendments
• $3,355 from Animal Adoption Center special donations to purchase an air conditioner/dehumidifier
• $200 to the Animal Adoption Center for sale of a GMC van
• $801 to county maintenance department for sale of a Chevrolet van
• $2,850.59 to District 1 for insurance reimbursement for damages to County Road 5
• $11,031.79 in combined funds for District 2 (routine quarterly budget amendment)
•$1,954.40 in combined funds for District 3 (routine quarterly budget amendment)
• $4,450.71 in combined funds for District 4 (routine quarterly budget amendment) Engineering items
• County Engineer Dustin Stewart reported that the work done to remedy a number of property flooding and drainage problems raised by builder Bob Bynum about a site on Mountain Gap Road in District 4 have been successfully remedied and inspected.
• Stewart presented a resolution for approval concerning a request to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration to reclassify Blount County Road 36 as a major collector under the Functional Highway Classification System. Such designation would qualify the 8.3-mile stretch of road connecting Ala 75 at Hendrix to U. S. 278 in Snead for federal funding. The commission approved the resolution.
• Stewart also presented a resolution requiring commission commitment to cooperate with ALDOT in providing supporting maintenance services in connection with a project to repave a section of I-65 passing through southern Blount County. The commission approved the resolution. Executive session
At the request of county attorney Jeff Sherrer, the commission voted to hold an executive session to discuss security plans and procedures at the courthouse and its environs.
The commission adjourned without further action following the executive session. Quorum and future meetings
A quorum was present at the business meeting in the persons of commissioners Dean Calvert, Mike Painter, and Nick Washburn. Green chaired the meeting and all staff functions – administrative, engineering and legal – were represented.
The next commission work session is Thurs., Aug. 9, at 9 a.m. in the commission board room.
The next commission business meeting is Mon. Aug. 13, at 9 a.m. in the commission board room.
Public hearing on the Scenic Overlook project – July 23, 9 a.m. – commission board room.
Bid opening for Miller Road Bridge project – July 24, 9 a.m. – commission board room.
Bid opening for courthouse renovation project – July 24, 3 p.m.– commission boardroom.
Special commission meeting on (1) 2019 Community Development Block Grant project selection (2) bid awards on courthouse renovation and Miller Road Bridge projects, and (3) presentation from Civil Link – July 26, 8 a.m. – commission board room.
Annual bid opening – July 31, 9 a.m. – commission board room.
Reminder: Back-to-school sales tax-free holiday is this weekend. 12:01 a.m., July 20, to midnight, July 22. Certain school supplies, school clothing, instructional materials, and computers exempt from state and local taxes. Partial list of exempt items at revenue. alabama.gov/sales and click on “Quick Reference Sheet of Exempt items”