Commission votes to clear $257,780 from the books

Blount County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pay off $257,780 in installment debt for six dump trucks, a vibratory compactor, and a tractor, to free district road budgets of most short-term debt. The action was taken at the commission business meeting Oct. 17.

Earlier this year, the commission paid the last installment of debt on two bond issues carried since the late 1990s, leaving the county now clear of all long-term and short-term debt except for one piece of equipment. District road budgets will now be unconstrained by the need to make debt and interest payments, so the entire district budget can be spent on road repairs and improvements.

The payoff amounts were $60,353.54 for District 2, $41,469.43 for District 4, and $155,957.45 split evenly between Districts 1, 3, and 4. A result of early payment will be a saving to the county of approximately $5000 in annual interest charges avoided.

“A primary benefit of this action is that new commissioners coming into office next year will not be saddled with debt,” said commission vice-chairman Waymon Pitts. “Of course, the commission will have to incur debt occasionally in the future to replace obsolete equipment when necessary, but in the meantime we’ll refrain from going into debt unless it’s absolutely necessary, and we’ll be able to devote those installment and interest payments to other needs,” he said.

District 1 Commissioner Allen Armstrong said he’d like for people to understand that paying off district debt will help, but won’t be an immediate cure-all for road repair problems. “It’ll make our money go further, but we’re paying it off with money from this year’s budget, so we won’t really get the benefit until 2013,” he said. “But in 2013, it’ll roll almost an additional $100,000 into District 1’s budget. That translates into an additional 3.5 to 4 miles of road we can add into the program that year,” he said. Budget amendments

The commission approved three budget amendments:

$921 to District 1 for sale of scrap metal.

$6325 to District 1 for insurance reimbursement on guardrail repair on county road 5.

$360.20 to District 2 from Koch Farms for road cleanup. In other actions, the commission:

appointed Dr. Stoney Beavers as a countywide representative for a three-year term on the Agribusiness Center board.

approved developing contracts with each county water authority to perform all utility work related to displacement of pavement on county roads; work will be performed by the county and billed to the utility at current FEMA rates and employee wage rates plus benefits; the county administrator is directed to advise each water district of the new policy and the commission chairman is authorized to sign the contracts.

approved District 4 to do road work on Blackwoods Bend (road) in Cleveland, at the request of the town council; authorized commission chairman to sign agreement.

approved contract with Marvin Vick Gamebirds to renew lease of two chicken houses at Freedom Ranch at a rate of $3000 each for the year; authorized the commission chairman to sign the contract.

awarded annual bid for office supplies to Blount Office Supplies. Engineering items

The commission approved, subject to the payment of fees, the final plat for Casa Bonita, a 10-unit multi-family housing project for off-farm agricultural workers, located on Kudzu Road, just outside of Oneonta.

It also approved posting a 20 mph speed limit on Windsong Lane in District 1.

It rescinded preliminary plat approval for Green Meadows sector two, developed by Toby Gilkey of Green Meadows LLC. The extension, granted on Oct. 12 last year for the District 1 development, expired on Sept. 30 this year.

The commission briefly discussed the need to hire a replacement employee to work at the Household Garbage Collection (county landfill) site at Wallstown in District 1. County employee Arthur Holt, 82, who now holds the job, is retiring in December after 30 years with the county. A temporary employee or employees will be considered when the commission takes up the matter next month. Covered Bridge update

The commission is awaiting return of the contract from Bob Smith Construction of Trussville with contractor approval. A preconstruction meeting for covered bridge repairs between the county and contractor is planned for later this month, with work expected to begin by mid-November.

All members of the commission were present at the 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 David Standridge.

The next commission work session is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m. The next business meeting will be Monday, Nov. 14, at 9.a.m. Both meetings will be in the commission board room at the courthouse.