Drug Task Force dismantling, emergency proclamation head list of commission actions

In a list of more than thirty items on the commission agenda for January, five stand out as unusually significant.

Drug Task Force deceased

The commission approved the detailed dismantling of the Blount County Drug Task Force, dissolved as a separate entity last October due to greatly reduced state funding, and recurring local funding issues. In its action Monday, the commission approved final distribution of the DTF’s cash balance of $11,696 to the participating agencies: 50 percent to the Blount County Commission, 25 percent to the District Attorney’s office, and 25 percent to the City of Oneonta.

Equipment bought during the DTF’s tenure will be assigned to the three participating entities in a followup meeting, with provisions for sharing it as appropriate. At the time of dissolution last fall, Blount County sheriff Danny Morton said the activities and duties of the task force would be reabsorbed by the participating agencies and municipal police departments.

Flood-related emergency proclaimed

At the recommendation Max Armstrong, county emergency management head, the commission proclaimed a local emergency resulting from widespread flooding that damaged roads and bridges the first week of January.

The designation is necessary to qualify the county to receive federal reimbursement for repairs to local infrastructure. In order to qualify, the county must declare a local emergency and sustain at least $185,000 in damage, while the state must report at least $5.5 million in total damages for the entire affected area.

Armstrong said the county would come close to and perhaps exceed the $185,000 figure, based on reports from the district commissioners. Whether the state would qualify is somewhat more problematic, he said. Other counties sustaining major flood damage were Walker and Cullman.

Pattern solid waste contract approved

The commission approved the county’s first contract between itself and a county landfill operator, B&B Tire Landfill Inc. The contract, recommended to the commission by Bob Shows, chairman of the Blount County Solid Waste Authority, was in the form of a pattern agreement between the two entities.

The Solid Waste Authority advocated the agreement and shepherded its creation so a legal document describing the relationship along with duties and responsibilities of each party would exist, rather than having the relationship defined by merely oral understandings. B&B Tire Landfill has agreed in principle to the idea of a written contract, but has not signed the specific document.

New courthouse phone system approved

Don Brooks, county buildings and maintenance manager, presented a recommendation in last Thursday’s work session to replace the current phone and communications system serving the Blount County Courthouse, along with the Hayden Courthouse Annex. The commission voted Monday to approve and convert to the new system.

Brooks said the new system would cut the monthly cost of communications to less than a third of the present cost, realizing a savings of over $5000 a month. The current monthly bill is well over $7000. The new system, to be provided by LaserOne Communications of Glencoe, will run just over $2000 monthly with no reduction in capability.

Total cost of the new system is $61,860. Brooks said that with savings of more than $5000 each month, the system will pay for itself in one year. He said LaserOne has worked as a contract vendor for the county for several years and has a solid record for reliability.

Brooks said conversion of the system will be phased in gradually over the remainder of this fiscal year, and should be completed by September. Each department will be provided a series of training sessions as time for conversion nears, he said.

New county administrator sought

The commission approved advertising to fill the approaching vacancy for the position of county administrator, the administrative job responsible for managing the work of the eight-man county commission staff and supporting the efforts of the county commission itself. It also approved requesting applications and resumes for the job through February, along with scheduling interviews as applicants respond.

According to discussion, it is important to fill the job early so as to allow the new employee to work in tandem for several months with the outgoing administrator in order to learn all aspects of the job. The salary for the job, though not specified by the commission, is in the $50,000 plus range, depending on background, education, and experience of the person hired.

The job will become open Oct. 1 when Chris Green, current county administrator, takes office as Blount County revenue commissioner, resulting from his election last November.