Commission approves Phase 2, barely

MOVING BLOUNT COUNTY FORWARD

The Blount County Commission approved the second phase of the Moving Blount County Forward initiative Monday, but it was far from smooth.

The Phase 2 consideration, No. 6 on the agenda, actually died on the first go-around for lack of a second after Commissioner Gary Stricklin moved for its approval.

With Commissioner Dean Calvert absent due to illness, neither of the other commissioners – Allen Armstrong nor Carthal Self – responded when Probate Judge/Commission Chairman Chris Green asked for a second.

Without a second, the motion – which would lay out the priority road projects for the commissioners and their districts if the 1-cent sales tax referendum passes – effectively died.

However, Self later asked for the item to be brought back for consideration, saying that he had made a promise that he would not stand in the way of a vote for the proposed tax increase.

After much discussion concerning procedural questions with attorneys Jeff Sherrer and Scott Barnett, the item was brought before the commission once again with Stricklin and Self voting for the item’s return and Armstrong voting against.

Discussion then centered on the proposal itself with Self maintaining that he did not support the tax initiative but he did support a vote for the proposed referendum.

Armstrong stated that he felt that it would be bad for the county, that it was “too watered down” to be effective, especially with the amount of money that would be disbursed to county municipalities. He also questioned the use of federal funds that would be earmarked for bridges and not roads, if the proposed initiative passes. The final vote showed Stricklin and Self voting for Phase 2 of the initiative while Armstrong abstained.

In other business, the commission:

•designated Whitney Gammon as the county’s interim safety coordinator.

•authorized Green to contract with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) to provide assistance with scrap tire clean-up in the county.

•renewed contracts with Revenue Discovery System (RDS) for sales tax collection and auditing services.

•agreed to discontinue the agreement for use of the Burton Chert Pit. County attorneys said the agreement was no longer valid since the owner of the pit had failed to maintain state licensing.

•amended a 2015 paving agreement with the town of Allgood. The original contract called for the paving of two areas for $18,448.72. However, the amended agreement was needed to show a $5,000 grant that the received for the project.

•renewed contracts with Oneonta, Cleveland, Snead and Blountsville for housing inmates at the Blount County Correctional Facility. The contracts, to be prepared by county attorneys and executed by the probate judge, charge the municipalities $10 per day per inmate.

•authorized the commission chairman to send a letter of appreciation to Massey, Stotser & Nichols for serving as county attorneys. BB&S Law Offices is the new county legal team, retroactive to March 1. The new firm is headed by Sherrer and Barnett – formerly associated with Massey, Stotser & Nichols – who have partnered with attorney Johnny Brunson to form BB&S. Engineer’s report

County engineer Winston Sitton updated the commission on several projects.

He said that the additional paving of crossings on County Road 26 had improved conditions but there was still work to be done.

Bridge inspections with FEMA had been done the week before and inspectors with the state and the federal agency agreed that the bride on House Road – actually in the city limits of Oneonta, near Limestone Springs – would need to be replaced. There is still discussion on three other county bridges damaged by flooding on Christmas day.

The commission also gave Green authorization to execute all documents related to rope access bridge inspections. Sitton told the commission that the inspections would begin next week. New road grader for District 4

Before approving a lease agreement for a new road grader for District 4, commissioners had to revisit a resolution from 2011.

The 2011 resolution regards the purchase and/or sale of county assets following a primary where the commissioner is defeated. Stricklin, commissioner for District 4, was defeated by Nick Washburn in the Republican primary earlier this month but Washburn will not take office until November.

The resolution calls for the outgoing commissioner to not obligate his district’s budget past his expiring term. This allows the incoming commissioner the chance to make decisions on equipment or budgeting matters, without being hamstrung by his predecessor.

Stricklin told the commissioners that his current motor grader was a detriment to finances because of repair costs and that he would pay 12 months of the lease-purchase on a new grader ($1,787 per month) out of his current fiscal year’s budget. When Washburn takes office in November, he will have use of the remainder of the lease already paid on the grader with the option to continue the lease-purchase or pursue other options.

The motion to make the current grader available for sale through JM Wood Auction passed unanimously, as did the motion on the lease-purchase for the new equipment.

The April commission work session will be held Thursday, April 7, while that month’s business meeting will be Monday, April 11. Both meetings will begin at 9 a.m.