Bibb County Commission Meeting of March 11, 2019

Probate Annex Building to be Replaced

Probate Judge Stephanie Kemmer addressed the Commission concerning the poor condition of the existing probate building. Nothing has been done to repair it in the last year since the issue was tabled by the Commission. Judge Kemmer asked when a new building project would begin.

A year ago, an architect was consulted and plans were made for a new building, but the funds were not available for the total project cost of $1.7 million. When compared to an estimate over $1 million to make all needed repairs and updates to the existing building, the new construction was determined to be the better investment of county funds. When, however, will either project be done?

Commissioner Keefe Burt summarized Judge Kemmer’s question neatly: “You need a time frame, so you know whether to put some lipstick on this one or get on another one.”

“We didn’t have the funds available, so we waited,” County Administrator Derek Reeves said, adding, “We tried to let the balances build up this year and not spend, and we still don’t have the money for the whole thing.”

According to discussion, the proposed building would go up behind the existing probate annex (on Courthouse Square), with the current building remaining in use until the new building is ready to be moved into. The construction of the new building being the majority of the project cost, taking the project in steps both practically and financially would help to ease the expenditure, as demolition of the current building and putting a new expanded parking lot in its place would be approximately $400,000 of the total project cost.

Discussion became how to build up money in accounts and use allocated funds that come in on schedule for capital improvements and renovations. Taking the project in phases that would reduce the amount of borrowing needed came as the agreed best idea.

Commissioners considered they would also need to contact the architect to update the now year-old project bid. A motion passed to set the project into motion.

Making the 1 Cent Sales Tax Permanent

Bibb County Board of Education Members came before the Commission with the backing of several school children as they presented a proposal involving a new bond issue that would occur while paying off the existing bond. Currently 100% of the 1 cent sales tax increase – voted in as a temporary tax in 2007 and intended to pay off bond debt incurred for facilities improvements – goes to schools. The new proposal would designate 80% of the 1 cent sales tax to schools and 20% to the county road department.

The proposal would also make the 1 cent sales tax permanent and would require passage by the State Legislature. Because of the legislature component at play, a limited timeline exists for approval by the Commission so that Representatives Ward and Weaver would be able to present the bill to legislators while in this current 2019 legislative session.

After lengthy discussion, the Commission passed the motion to approve the proposal in a split vote of 3 to 2. Commissioners Kelley and Burt voted No. Watch for an additional detailed article from the Bibb Voice on this topic soon.

Other Topics of the Night:

Callie Martin returned to ask for an update on the Hill Place and Martin Hills road issue presented last meeting. County Attorney and County Engineer have not yet had a chance to visit the location and discuss the situation, but they have scheduled a time for this coming week. It was confirmed that images from Google show that the road has moved from its previous location.

Two officers in the county jail were recently promoted, and a motion passed to increase their pay accordingly. The Sheriff also requested through the County Administrator to be allowed to advertise and fill the positions of Chief Jailer and Assistant Chief Jailer. The motion also passed.

SOURCEThe Bibb Voice
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A father, creative professional, and an alumnus of Bibb County High School, Jeremy has found his way back to Centreville after many years away. He studied Finance and Economics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and almost a decade ago left the "normal" business world for audio and video production. A freelance writer, photographer, sound engineer, and film and video producer/director/editor, his work has appeared online for Southern Living, People, Health, Food & Wine, Sports Illustrated, Cooking Light, Al.com, It's a Southern Thing, and This Is Alabama, as well as for independent musicians and filmmakers across Alabama.

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