Most of the guests at the county commission’s Aug. 8 work session had one thing on their mind: money. Four of the five who spoke were requesting money or paving the way to ask for it in later correspondence. Petitioners included District Judge Sherry Burns, requesting funding support, orally and by letter, for the Blount County Juvenile Probation Office; and Oneonta head librarian Gail Sheldon and Chamber of Commerce executive director Donny Ray, both requesting funding support for their agencies for next year and promising a formal request letter later.
Blount County Coroner John Mark Vaughn presented a multi-pronged request for assistance in adding an administrative assistant and deputy coroner to his office, a special vehicle to transport bodies to Huntsville for autopsy, a specially-marked vehicle to identify the coroner or his representative at death scenes, and assistance in charging and collecting fees from agencies requesting storage and transportation associated with autopsies, as well as administrative fees for records requested from the coroner’s office.
Only Randy Armstrong, a resident of District 1, had a request for assistance other than funding. He requested an explanation of why he had been told there is little chance of his road “ever being graveled or paved.” “What’s it going to take?” he asked plaintively several times. His request concerned Arrow Lane, where his home is located, a three-quarter mile road in Cox Cove that serves two residences.
When it became clear from discussion that such a road does not carry a high paving priority because of the limited number of people served, Commission Chairman Chris Green entered the discussion.
Referring to low-traffic volume roads like Arrow Lane and others that do not qualify for special funding like the 10 recent projects funded by the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP), Green said: “We desperately need more revenues to do what we need to do with the many roads like this one in Blount County. Unfortunately, the people of the county defeated the last local revenue measure designed to generate revenue for roads (the $15 tag-fee increase of 2008) by 86 percent opposed to 14 percent in favor. We’ve obviously got a lot of work to do in this area.” Budget request amounts
In her letter to the commission, Burns requested $15,000, the same amount the commission contributed last year to help fund the retention of two employees whose salaries were eliminated in the 2011-2012 budget cycle by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, which funded them until that time.
Sheldon did not mention the amount of funding she would request for 2013-2014 in her presentation to the commission, but in a follow-up letter requested the same amount as for the current fiscal year: $19,200.
Likewise, in his presentation, Donny Ray did not name an amount for the Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce for 2013-2014, and his followup letter was not available for this writing. The amount budgeted for the current year was $65,000.