Commission pays off county debt, votes $800,000 more for roads

The Blount County Commission has paid off $5,560,000 in long-term debt dating back to the mid-1990s. That announcement opened the governing body’s July business meeting.

The last installment – $233,499 paid May 3 – means the county is free of debt for the first time since the initial $3,010,000 was incurred to build the new sheriff’s office and correctional facility in 1994. The debt subsequently grew to $5,560,000 with the issue of road-paving bonds in 1996.

“We may not have done everything else we would have like to have done, but we do pay our debts,” Commission Chairman David Standridge said, noting that other counties have not been as fortunate or prudent in that regard as Blount. He also noted the accomplishment includes the efforts of previous commissions and administrations.

“The money used to pay this debt was primarily road funding, so this really helps our road program,” Standridge added. The debt payment of about $500,000 annually will now be available for roads, he said.

In a related development, the commission unanimously passed Resolution 11-7-3 directing that $800,000 in road improvement funds be divided equally among the four commission districts. The funds are to be used exclusively to improve existing paved roads. Use for any other purpose such as equipment purchase or employee salaries is specifically forbidden. Funds are to be expended during the current year paving season, which extends to Nov. 1. Covered Bridges and M4A

In other actions, the commission authorized the chairman to sign contracts and agreements in connection with two projects:

the Covered Bridge renovation project – the advance authorization will allow the chairman to sign whenever it arrives the state Department of Transportation agreement requiring county signoff to proceed, instead of having to await the next commission business meeting for the commission to vote the authorization, thus saving up to three weeks, depending on when the agreement is received.

the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A) – the annual contract covers the funding arrangements between M4A and Blount County for four senior center programs, including agreements between the county and the municipalities that sponsor the centers: Oneonta, Snead, Blountsville, and Nectar.

The commission approved an Internet policy affecting county employees and users of Blount County internet services. The notice to employees says that because of “increasing problems the system is experienceing with broadband capabilities due to computer viruses, adware, and malicious software, it is necessary to implement guidelines concerning these unacceptable uses of county computers:

watching streaming videos, unless job related and approved by supervisor.

listening to internet radio or TV.

playing games.

downloading software of any kind except as required by employee’s job.

viewing inappropriate or sexually explicit materials. Other actions

The commission approved:

a resolution petitioning the National Park Service to allow conversion of deteriorated tennis courts built with federal funds into a vehicle parking lot needed at Royal community park to provide parking for other community activities.

a resolution authorizing the chairman to execute an intergovernmental agreement allowing the county to participate in the East Alabama Cooperative Purchasing Association, which includes several other county commissions; annual membership is $1,000, but saving is anticipated to be much greater; it was said that saving on fuel purchases alone could total as much as $10,000.

the Blount County Community Corrections program annual plan.

two budget amendments to:

1) transfer $16,047 from Capital Improvement Fund 116 to the Data Service Department to provide for additional data storage and memory in the courthouse main frame computer system.

2) transfer $2701 to the District 2 budget for road work in Snead.

authorizing the chairman to sign a billing addendum with Delta Computer Systems for $2740 for software support, to be shared by the revenue, commission and probate offices, and covering an increase in the annual charge.

revising the commission’s discretionary capital asset threshold for road maintenance projects from $5000 to $15,000; full commission approval would not be required for expenditures for road projects up to $15,000 and could be handled by individual commissioners on their own authority.

family medical leave for two sheriff’s department employees.

District 3’s use of former county shop space.

appointing the following members to county boards:

*Blount County Solid Waste Authority – Denny Armstrong for a six-year term expiring in April 2017.

*Blount County Health Care Authority (all six-year terms) – Wendell Ellis, place 1 (reappointment); David Hornsby, place 2; Becky Brothers McGowen, place 3 (reappointment).

*Alabama Department of Human Resources – Phyllis Polk to a six-year term expiring in March 2017. County engineering items

At the recommendation of county engineer Richard Spraggins, the commission approved

new speed limits on the following roads:

25 mph on Old Walker Road in District 1 – due to hills, curves, and narrowness of road.

25 mph on Holiday Drive in District 3 – due to hills, curves, narrowness of road, and roughness of pavement.

20 mph on Blythe Road in District 3 – due to hills and narrowness of road.

30 mph on Buckner Mill Road in District 3 – due to hills and curves.

new weight limits, all in District 1, on

Elvester Road,

Dean’s Ferry Road, and

Commissary Road.

accepting as county roads these roads in Plantation Pines subdivision in District 4, subject to the developer paying $32,000 to cover the costs of upgrading:

Savannah Lane, 0.39 mile

Madison Wood Court 0.05 mile

Ashley Brook Trail, 0.29 mile

Racheal Lane, 0.14 mile

Hampton Road, 0.06 mile

The commission recessed the meeting until July 28 at 2 p.m. in order to open sealed bids for resurfacing of various roads in District 1 and District 2.

All commission members were present for Monday’s business meeting: District 1’s Allen Armstrong, District 2’s Andy Neill, District 3’s Dean Calvert, District 4’s Waymon Pitts, and Commission Chairman Standridge.

The next commission work session is Thursday, Aug. 4, at 9 a.m. in the commission board room at the courthouse. The next business meeting is there Monday, Aug. 8 ,at 9 a.m.