The Blount County commission voted unanimously in its business meeting Monday to hire Winston J. Sitton as the county engineer for Blount County, replacing Richard Spraggins, who resigned effective Feb. 29. The motion to hire him, offered by Allen Armstrong, stipulates that he is to be hired at ALDOT pay grade 14 ($88,543.20), and allots $5,000 in moving expenses.
Sitton, 33, is currently senior engineer on the Shelby County engineering staff. He expects to report to work in “about a month,” he said. He is originally from County Line. He graduated with an engineering degree from Auburn University. He has worked for the last “five or six” years in the engineering office in Shelby County, he said.
The commission office declined to provide a copy of Sitton’s resume to The Blount Countian, citing confidentiality policy. Sitton himself also declined to provide the newspaper a copy of his resume saying he was “not comfortable” with doing so.
“I am excited to be in Blount County,” Sitton said. “I love the land, the rivers, the creeks, the caves. It’s one of the best outdoor counties in the state,” he said. Insurance option for retirees
The commission voted 3-1 with District 4 Commissioner Waymon Pitts opposed, to approve a new proposed policy encouraging more employees to remain on the county medical insurance at retirement in order to gain the benefits of a $160,000 annual savings to the county (in the form of a discount), if enough employees elect to do so. For the county to qualify for the discount, nine employees must chose one of the possible options shown below. (Only one has chosen to remain on county insurance under the existing policy.)
An employee can remain on the insurance by choosing one of the following options, as described in a commission handout:
(1) “Any employee can remain on the insurance when they retire at any age, if they qualify for retirement benefits with Retirement Systems of Alabama by having 25 years of creditable service and the last 10 years of creditable service with Blount County. Or, at age 60, the employee qualifies for retirement benefits with Retirement Systems of Alabama and the last 10 years of creditable service with Blount County, by paying 50 percent of the active premium rate, single or family, until they are Medicare eligible. When Medicare eligible, then the member pays the entire premium.”
(2) “After an employee reaches the age of 62 and has 10 years of service with Blount County, they they can remain on the insurance by paying the active employee rate, single or family, until Medicare eligible. When Medicare eligible, the employee pays the entire premium.”
Pitts, while readily acknowledging the short-term savings, gave three reasons for his voting against the new policy, all having to do with consequences that could – but might not – occur in the longer term and that could negatively affect the financial well-being of the county.
•He said the Alabama County Commission Association, which provides the insurance indirectly through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, could decide at any time in the future to discontinue the discount, depriving the county of the savings.
•He said that the proposal encourages employees to retire earlier, resulting in the county losing its most experienced and productive workers, replacing them with younger workers who are less productive. The county might have to actually hire more workers to do the same amount of work handled by the more experienced employees who retired, Pitts said.
•He said that if there should happen to be an unusually high number of “takers” for the new policy – say 20 or more – the way the proposal is structured, the discount declines considerably, and could conceivably cost the county more money, not less, at some point. Hayden voting location changed
The commission voted to change the voting place in Hayden from the Town Hall to the Community Center, located a short distance away on county road 7. The new location provides more parking and avoids traffic congestion on Ala 160, which can be a problem during major elections such as the presidential election this fall. The change must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice; that approval is expected in time for the general election. Moss bridge closed
The commission voted to close Moss Bridge immediately in light of a report of an inspection from the Alabama Department of Transportation, recommending the bridge be closed for public safety reasons until repairs can be made. Temporary repairs could take as long as 90 days, according to District 4 Commissioner Waymon Pitts. The commission also authorized the engineering department to apply for state funding to construct a new bridge. Resolutions passed:
•resolution to apply for a grant requesting $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds from the Alabama Department of Environmental and Community Affairs (ADECA). The money would be used to improve roads in the Sugarland Lakes community. The county will provide a local match of $50,000 to support the project.
•resolution to apply for a grant of $20,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through ADECA to rehabilitate the rock amphitheater at Palisades Park. Total cost of the project is estimated at $40,000. The county commission will hold in reserve 50 percent of the cost estimate to meet the grant’s matching requirements.
•resolution to apply for a grant of $24,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund through ADECA to rehabilitate walking trails in Palisades Park. Total cost of the project is estimated at $30,000. The county commission will hold in reserve 20 percent of the cost of the project to meet the grant’s matching requirements.
•resolution declaring “Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday” on qualifying items related to weather preparedness purchased during the period July 6 – July 8, 2012. A list of qualifying items follows.
AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, and 9-volt batteries; cell phone battery and charger; radios: portable, self-powered, battery-powered, weatherband, and NOAA weather; flashlights, lanterns, glow-sticks; tarps, plastic sheeting, drop cloths, other waterproof sheeting; bungee cords, rope, tie-down kits; duct tape; plywood, window film or other materials designed to protect window coverings; non-electric food storage cooler and water storage container; non-electric can-opener; artificial ice, blue ice, ice packs, reusable ice; first-aid kits; fire extinguisher, smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector; gas or diesel tank or container. Also exempt from sales tax is a single purchase with a sales price of $1,000 or less, specifically any portable generator and power cords.
•resolution to vacate a portion of the right-of-way of Cannons Crossing as described by survey as “tract 1” and “tract 2” in the included documentation. Public hearing on B&B Tire Landfill’s request set
The commission set a date and time of June 19 at 7 p.m. for a public hearing on the recommendation of the Blount County Solid Waste Authority concerning B&B Tire Landfill’s request to extend its coverage area for scrap tires to include four additional Southern states. The coverage area is the area in which tires are picked up for disposal at B&B Landfill. Presently, the company’s permit specifies the coverage area as Alabama only. The Blount County Solid Waste Authority recommended the county commission approve B&B Landfill’s request to expand its coverage area.
The commission will take written comments on the matter from now until the time of the public hearing. They may be submitted to county administrator Ralph Mitchell at 202 Second Avenue East, room 106, Oneonta, Alabma 35121. The Solid Waste Plan and the written request of B&B Tire Landfill are available for public review at the commission office. Other actions:
•appointed Joe Gossett to the Blount County Solid Waste Authority board to fill the unexpired term of Tommy Chambers, who resigned with chairman Bob Shows following the authority’s 3-2 vote to approve B&B Tire Landfill’s request to expand the coverage area from which it may haul used tires to include four additional states. Shows and Chambers opposed the request. Shows’s position has not been filled as yet.
•authorized the commission chairman to sign a contact for one year with RDS, the company that provides tax collection and administration services for the county.
•approved changes to job description narratives for equipment operator grades VI, VII, and VIII to require all to have a class B commercial driver’s license to drive county trucks and other heavy equipment. Grade VIII employees must also be able to operate construction equipment such as motorgraders, asphalt distributor, lowboy and reclaimer, as approved by the commissioner.
•authorized the commission chairman to sign a new jail phone contract with NCIC Inmate Phone Services.
•approved family medical leave for a county employee.
•approved an overnight stay in Palisades Park for a girl scout troop.
•approved Xerox contract for the probate office and authorized the commission chairman to sign.
•approved expenditures of funds from state Rep. Elwyn Thomas’s Community Service Grant Fund for $4,775.25 for paving a road in District 3. Budget amendments:
•$300 to District 2 for road work on Ellison Circle in Susan Moore.
•$449.98 to District 2 for road work in Snead.
•$1,700 to Toby Sexton Tire Co. for tires for District 2.
•$1,472.80 to District 2 for sale of scrap metal.
•$16,188.91 to District 2 from the Blount County Board of Education for paving and parking lot repairs at Susan Moore High School.
•$100 to Toby Sexton Tire Co. for tires for District 3.
•$4,103.12 to District 4 for road work in Sunny Meadows in Locust Fork.
•$14,416 to District 4 from American Southern Insurance company to cover default on a developer bond for Marvin’s Garden subdivision.
•$3,865.70 to District 4 from MCoal Company.
•$5,500 to the Sheriff’s Salary Fund from Hayden to pay the salary of new investigator Tim Sartain, assigned to Hayden and the District 1 section of the county. The commission authorized the administrator to make budget amendments quarterly to accommodate the payments. Executive session
At the end of the regular meeting, the commission adjourned, then voted to go into executive session. County attorney Tom Prickett’s letter requesting the session cited discussion of pending litigation, controversies that could lead to litigation, or possible mediation or arbitration concerning other matters within the commission’s jurisdiction as the reason for executive session. The commission returned about a half hour-later and adjourned without further action.
All commissioners and the commission chairman were present at Monday’s business meeting.
The next scheduled commission work schedule is June 7, at 9 a.m. The next business meeting is June 11 at 9 a.m. Both meetings will be in the commission boardroom at the courthouse.