Commission at odds with attorney selection process; adds four new projects to budget

The Greene County Commission met in regular session, Monday, May 10, 2021, with its recently hired legal counsel Attorney Mark Parnell of Birmingham. Prior to the agenda being approved, Commissioner Lester Brown noted that the item, Approval of Previous Minutes, was not on the agenda. Following the lead of the Commission Chairperson, Roshanda Summerville, the agenda was accepted, with the added minutes, on a motion by Commissioner Allen Turner, second by Commissioner Lester Brown. Prior to the April 12 minutes being acted on, Commissioner Brown noted that those minutes did not address the fact that the voting procedures, led by Commissioner Summerville, for hiring legal counsel at the April meeting did not allow him or Commissioner Tennyson Smith to cast a vote for the candidate of their choice. According to Brown, when the Chairperson called for the vote on Candidate 1, three commissioners voted for Candidate 1 and Commissioner Summerville then declared that Candidate 1 was selected and ended the process. Votes were not called for the other candidates. Brown insisted that he and Smith should have been afforded the opportunity to vote on the other candidates, so their choices would be in the record. This is what Brown wanted to add to the minutes. “I am not attempting to change how the vote went; majority rules and I accept that. I just wanted the chance to put my vote for another candidate in the record,” he stated. Commissioner Corey Cockrell commented that when Candidate 1 received the majority vote, what’s the use of voting on anybody else. When Commission Attorney Parnell was asked for advice on the matter, he inquired whether the minuets had been voted on; the Chairperson affirmed they had not. Parnell then stated that the minutes could not be changed, but he informed Brown that his statements could be placed in the minutes of the current meeting. There was no clarification for the basis of this statement on the minutes by the attorney. In most rules of order, minutes can be changed – corrected and amended. As the business continued, CFO Macaroy Underwood presented the finance report including payment of claims and budget amendments. The budget amendments included items/projects not in the current approved budget. Six safe rooms were approved at a cost of $600,000 to come from bingo revenue; Security system for Highway Department at a cost of $15,750; Repairs and maintenance to jail control panel at a cost of $15,000. Underwood noted that insurance the county pays has increased by $22,577.38. This was also not in the current budget. He also presented the claims paid for April: Accounts Payable – $237,401.27; Payroll Transfer – $213,815.29; Fiduciary – $535,234,84; Electronic Claims Paid – $75,093.69. According to Underwood, 43% of the county’s budget should be remaining, however, four departments are under 43%. In other business, the commission acted on the following: * Approved all county employees returning to full time on May 17, 2021. * Approved the County Engineer’s contract as presented. * Approved the Engineer purchasing milling at a cost of $14,000 to be paid from bingo funds. (Milling is recycled asphalt which will be used on dirt roads.) * Approved Highway Department doing foundation work with the Water Authority. * Approved travel request for Assistant Engineer to attend class in Prattville, June 9-10, 2021. * Approved contracting with Secretary of State regarding new handicap accessible voting machines. * Approved Legal Shields speaking with employees regarding payroll deduction. Tabled all open appointments for DHR and PARA Boards. * Approved Back-to-School 2021 Sales Tax Holiday Resolution. * Denied request from the Democrat for graduation ad in special issue saluting graduating students. At the close of the commission meeting during public comments, Mr. Spiver Gordon, longtime community activist, expressed his opinion regarding the dismissal of Senator Hank Sanders as county attorney and the commission’s procedure in selecting new legal counsel. Gordon said he represented the views of many Greene Countians who were disappointed with the commission’s actions against Attorney Sanders who had served the county for more than 25 years. He related Sanders’ services to the community throughout the Civil Rights era without expectation of monetary payment. “I know the commission has the right to hire who they want as county attorney, but many of us are disappointed in how you went about it,” he said. Gordon noted that Sanders was not afforded the respect of an interview. Gordon also expressed concern with the commission’s monthly meeting schedule. “The county commissions is an elected body that is supposed to serve the people, yet you are distancing yourselves from the community by scheduling your meetings at 3:30 in the afternoon. Not many citizens can attend at that time,” he stated. Gordon also noted that executive sessions during the meeting were once placed toward the end of the agenda, when the public could leave after hearing the earlier business on the agenda. “Now with your executive session near the top of the agenda, we have to wait a very long time to hear the rest of the business of the meeting,” he stated. Gordon cautioned the commissioners that they should revisit their duties and commitment of service to the people. Ms. Iris Sermon, E911 Director, addressed the commission regarding wording or presentation of items listed on the agenda for action. “The items begin with the word ‘consider’ therefore when the commission votes, you are voting to consider the item, not really voting to approve or not approve the item,” she stated. Sermon asked the commission to look closely at how they design their agenda. 

Commission reports Sheriff has depleted funds in Overtime Line Item

At its monthly meeting held, Monday, December 10, 2019, the Greene County Commission took action to zero out the Overtime Line Item in the Greene County Sheriff’s budget after transferring $9,388.95 to that line item from the Sheriff’s Fuel Line Item. According to the CFO Paula Bird’s report, the Sheriff had already spent above the budgeted funds for overtime pay for employees in his department. Bird reported that she was directed by the Commission Chairperson, Allen Turner, Jr. to make this budget adjustment for the commission’s review and action at this meeting.
In the budget amendment, the commission also approved transferring $478.20 to the jail’s budget.
During the meeting the commissioners were presented a document from Sheriff Jonathan Benison, however, the contents were not discussed in the open meeting. When Commissioners Smith and Brown raised questions about the document, Chairman Turner stated that it would be discussed in executive session.
According to the CFO Bird, the county’s bank totals as of Nov. 18, 2019 were as follows: Citizen Trust Bank – $2,833,696.38; Merchants & Farmers Bank – $1,787,300.29; CD Bond Sinking fund (Investment) – $1.053,312.97; Bank of New York – $616,750.79.
Following an executive session, the commission approved the community liaison appointments presented by Commission Chair Allen Turner, Jr.: Commissioner Brown – Industry and Local and State Agencies; Commissioner Cockrell – Public Works and Housing Authority; Commissioner Smith – Education and Hospital, Health Service and Library; Commissioner Summerville – Personnel, Park and Recreation and EMS; Commissioner Turner – Finance, Department Heads and Extension Services.
In other business, the commission took action on the following:
Approved revision of 2019 Holiday schedule – employees will have Dec. 25, 26, 27 off. Dec. 24 will be a work day.
Approved re-advertising the Coroner’s Bill.
Approved the easement agreement with Marvin Smith and Greene County Commission.
Approved annual bids, including the following: Treated Timber; CMP; Polyethylene Pipe; Aggregates; Liquid Asphalt; Petroleum Products.
Approved allowing Highway Department to assist Greene County Water Authority with earthwork for new building, providing Highway Department is reimbursed.
Approved travel for Engineering Department and Highway Department personnel.
In reference to Agenda Item 12 – Consider budgetary issues with salaries and overtime – the commission approved a motion to recess the meeting until Monday, December, 16, 2019 at 6:30 pm.

Commission commits $126,000 for new equipment; Chairman makes committee assignments

County personnel view demonstration model of excavator equipment approved by Commission.

The Greene County Commission met in a specially called meeting, Monday, November 26, 2018 to handle some business matters that were not dealt with at the re-organizational meeting the prior week. The commissioners approved a request by County Engineer, Willie Branch, to purchase a mini excavator with mulcher attachment at a cost of approximately $126,000. According to Mr. Branch, this will replace the county’s Boom Mower. Branch indicated that he expects the equipment to arrive by the first of the year. Commission Chairperson, Tennyson Smith, issued committee assignments for each commissioner: Commissioner Lester Brown will chair the Education Committee; Commissioner Corey Cockrell will chair the Highway/Solid Waste Committee; Commissioner Roshanda Summerville will chair the Personnel Committee; Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. will chair the Industry and Public Health Committee; and Commissioner Smith will chair the Finance/Public Safety Committee. In other business the Commission acted on the following: * Approved letter of support for Greene County Industrial Authority. * Approved Proclamation for World Aids Day, Dec. 1, 2018 for the Greene County * Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. * Approved replacement of HVAC unit at Activity Center ( Extension offices). * Approved ABC License for Tobacco Permit for Dollar General store in Clinton, AL. * Approved Dec. 31, 2018 as an additional county holiday for this year. * Approved 2019 county holiday schedule. * Approved Ratification of Chairman’s actions regarding resolution for Alabama Workers’ Compensation Self Insurers Fund. * Approved following employee travel request: Licensing Clerk to attend Licensing Conference in Prattville, Jan.16-17, 2019; CFO to attend Annual Governmental & Accounting Forum, Dec. 6-7, 2018 in Hoover, AL; CFO to attend Continuing Education in Bessemer, Dec. 11-12, 2018; H.R. Personnel to attend Legislative Conference, Dec. 4-6, 2018 in Montgomery; Board of Registrars to attend Registrar’s Conference Nov. 16 in Montgomery. The meeting was officially adjourned.