All Commissioners present, the night kicked off with a salute to the Bibb County 7-8 year old baseball team that became team Alabama and won the Little League World Series, defeated team Texas 7-0 when they played in New Orleans recently. Chairman Rodney Stabler presented coaches and team with a framed certificate of the Proclamation making the rest of 2019 the year of the South Bibb Dixie Youth/Team Alabama Baseball. The proclamation encourages all citizens to applaud and support the team and “their commitment to teamwork and excellence.”
Sales and Use Tax Now Permanent
We’ve got time to correct our mistake right now. We can still do it; it’s not too late. We have made a mistake, and we can fix it, right here and right now. — Keefe Burt
As soon as the item came up, Commissioner Keefe Burt made a motion to place the sales and use tax on the November 2020 ballot, to be voted on by the public in Bibb County, as to whether or not to make it permanent. Commissioner James Kelly seconded the motion.
The tax came up in a Commission meeting in March as school board members brought a room full of children in to appeal to the Commission to make it permanent. The 1% sales and use tax was voted into place in 2007 as a twenty-year temporary tax (to expire in 2027), with all associated revenues going to Bibb County Schools. The proposal in March of this year changed distribution of funds to be split 80/20 between schools and county roads, as well as making the tax permanent, not to expire in 2027 as was voted on publicly in 2007.
The motion passed in March, with the intent to have time for the resolution to make its way through the State Legislature as is required. Having now made that journey and passed, it only remained for the Commission to vote it into existence at the county level – resolution 2019-9.
Burt spoke to his fellow Commissioners regarding putting it on the 2020 ballot, saying they should let the citizens have a look at it as they “haven’t had any input into it whatsoever.” After some tension in discussion, he concluded, “When you do things, even if you’re doing the right thing, when you do it the wrong way, it’s still wrong…When this was done originally, the citizens were told that this would be for a length of time and it would go away. We didn’t do that. It’s six, seven years left on it. We didn’t do it. We came in here, we didn’t give anybody a chance to put forth any effort, there was no public hearing, there was nothing done, it was not advertised… what we did, we did in the wrong way … We’ve done this. It’s done. It’s passed and got to be enacted. The only way to make this right – and they’ve got time to do it if they get it before March it can be on the ballot – it can go before the citizens of this county and let them say ‘yes, we want to do this’ or ‘no, we don’t want to do this.’ And that’s what we ought to do. We’ve got time to correct our mistake right now. We can still do it; it’s not too late. We have made a mistake, and we can fix it, right here and right now. And it’s still going to go through, but it’ll be done the correct way.”
After the impassioned speech, Commissioners voted on Burt’s motion to put it on the ballot. The vote came 3-2 against, with only Burt and Kelly voting in favor of a public vote.
Immediately following, the vote came to permanently enact the tax, which passed 3-2, with Burt and Kelly voting no, while Commissioners Charles Caddell, Sammy Holdsambeck, and Chairman Rodney Stabler voted yes.
The Bibb Count Airport Authority came before the Commission to request $7,000 to pay their portion of match funds to the federal grant that will pay for needed repairs and improvements.
As a separate measure, the Authority requested that the County Road Department be allowed to make different repairs to the ground adjacent to the runway. ALDOT (Alabama Department of Transportation) requires a range of 1.5 – 3 inches of drop from the runway surface, and some places the ground was 4 inches or more down. County Engineer Jeff McKinney stated that it could be done with their equipment and he estimates the cost at about $3,300. Without the ground repair, however, ALDOT will not approve the runway, and no grant money will come. The Commission approved both of these expenses.
Road Department Updates
The County Engineer approached the podium with a full load of information and requests for the Commission. Summarized here:
- Friendship Road between Bear Creek Road (County 1) and Pondville is once again suffering a major erosion problem. A quote from J.W. Kornegay of $3,100 would get the road repaired until the chronic erosion once again requires a repair, likely in 3-4 years it seems. Permanent and costlier solutions were discussed, but the temporary repair was approved.
- Harrisburg Road is having a standing water issue in a section of the paved portion of the road. The solution of adding asphalt and re-crowning can be done by J.W. Kornegay for $5,000. This was also approved.
- J.W. Kornegay also benefited from being the only company to put in a bid (out of several requested) on patching potholes in the county, and was granted the contract.
- McKinney requested Commissioners to ask their constituents for ideas and recommendations on potential projects and priorities in their areas, as a plan must be submitted soon as to how the new gas tax revenue will be spent in order for the county to begin receiving it. With the first year funds expected to be about $832,000 total – including $400,000 to replace the $533,000 in federal funds that will no longer be available – the county will have more money to work with on roads, but has strict rules of how these monies can be used.
- Would like to consider a new re-striping project to include Bear Creek Road, Truman Aldrich Parkway, and Eastern Bypass. This project would use up the remaining federal funds in the County’s account, as required in order to start receiving state gas tax funds, but would cost about $36,000 additional. Commissioners liked the idea of improving safety on these roads, and McKinney will bring a formal resolution at the next meeting.
- The Coldwater Road Project passed the motion for the Chairman to sign and county to pay $315,514.48 as their portion – 20% match – of federal funds that are covering the other 80%.
Paying the Bills
As a matter of routine, and some not, the Commission approved paying the following bills:
- New Courthouse metal detector to be paid for by the Courthouse Security Fund – $3,875
- Rutledge and Associates invoice for accounting services for 2017 financials that were recently completed – $4,000
- Tax Assessor record binding – $5,000
- Sheriff Department vehicle repairs $3,972. This repair was not filed to insurance, as the county intends to sue the responsible inmate for restitution, which will pay for the damage.