At it regular meeting, held Monday, February 13, 2016, the Greene County Commission approved a resolution in support for the three-cent ATRIP-2 bond issue proposed by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama as priority legislation for the 2017 Alabama legislative session. The revenue from the proposed bond issue, which would increase statewide gasoline and diesel fuel tax by 3 cents per gallon, would be dedicated to improving the state’s declining road and bridge infrastructures.
According to the county engineer’s office, the three-cent bond issue would generate over $1.2 billion for Alabama’s 67 counties and would be spent exclusively on roads and bridges.
If the bond issue is approved, the Greene County Commission could receive approximately$10 million for road and bridge improvements, which would include 50 miles of resurfaced roads in the county. The bond issue would also benefit the road and bridge infrastructures of local towns, with $2M of the $10M awarded to the municipalities.
If the measure passes the legislature, the increase would be effective as of July 1, 2017.
As stated in the Resolution: “It is estimated that a three-cent bond issue would cost the average Greene County driver less than $2 per month, but would produce a county economic impact of over $50 million in the form of new jobs, safety improvements, lower vehicle maintenance costs, and other economic development opportunities.”
The Greene County Commission approved the bid from Boligee Electric for replacing lighting at the Eutaw Activity Center. The improvements will also include placing lights outside the facility. Boligee Electric was deemed a qualified vendor with appropriate license and insurance.
Mr. Spiver Gordon was reappointed to the Greene County Housing Authority Board representing District 1 and Mrs. Cillia Morrow was reappointed to the J. C. Poole Memorial Library Board also representing District 1.
In the financial report ending Jan. 17, 2017, CFO Paula bird reported that cash in Citizens Trust Bank totaled $3,551,710.69; cash in Merchants & Farmers Bank totaled $1,884,849.56. The CD Bond Sinking Fund totaled $682,649.23 and funds in the Bank of New York totaled $827,694.81.
Bird noted that some adjustments were made in the Sheriff Department’s budget relative to new vehicle purchase.
In other business the commission approved the following:
* Levying of 2017 taxes
*Levying of Wet County Fees
* ACCA Liability Self Insurance Fund
* Travel for staff and commissioners to various meetings and workshop.
The Greene County Commission held a special called meeting on Thursday, December 29 at 4:30 PM to ratify an agreement to approve the Sheriff and Jail Budget based on the Sheriff’s Department collecting $5 per bingo machine in fees from each bingo operator retroactive to February 2016.
County Attorney Hank Sanders reported on an agreement that he had worked out with Sheriff Benison, in the presence of the special judge handling the on-going dispute between the Sheriff and the Commission over the budget, personnel, repairs to the jail and the Sheriff’s contribution from bingo funds to the Commission’s operating account.
The Commission adopted the following motion, “Be it resolved, that the Sheriff and Jail Budget for Greene County be based on the FY 2013-14 budget amount; and based on the installation of additional security cameras in the amount of $7,687; and based upon the Sheriff certifying that notice was given to the bingo operators and charities to pay the additional $5 per machine retroactive back to February 2016.”The Sheriff and Jail Budget for 2013 and 14 was $1,623,177. The retroactive payment at $5 per machine for the eleven months, since the agreement in February 2016, is estimated to be $70,000 .
The Commissioners questioned Attorney Sanders before their vote as to how the Sheriff was going to pay the retroactive amount. Sanders said that the amount would likely not be paid in a lump sum but in periodic payments over time. He said that a timetable was not specified but that the Judge would be monitoring the agreement to be sure both sides complied with their obligations under the agreement
Chief Derick Coleman and new officer Patrick Shearry.
At its regular meeting on December 13, 2016, the Eutaw City Council approved a resolution accepting the streets within Branch Heights for city maintenance.
The resolution discusses the history of problems with repairs to the streets and roadways in the Branch Heights Subdivision, a predominantly Black housing area that was built with HUD funds through the Greene County Housing Authority. The subdivision is named for the first Black Probate Judge of Greene County. Some of the houses have been sold to individual families after the family had occupied them for at least 15 years.
In 2004, Branch Heights was annexed into the City of Eutaw and the city has made some repairs to the streets on an “as needed” and “as funds were available” basis without formally accepting responsibility for the streets.
This resolution officially accepts the streets in the William Mckinley Branch Heights subdivision for city ownership and maintenance and pledges to seek funds for the repair of the streets. The resolution lists the streets to be maintained as including the following:
– William McKinley Branch Drive
– Joseph Wilder Circle
– John Chambers Court
– Vassie Knott Court
– Howard Irvin Drive
– Office Lane
– Levi Morrow Sr. Court
– Harry Means Court
– Frenchie Burton Road
– Howard Brown Court
– Joseph Court
Many of these streets were named for pioneering Black members of the Greene County Commission and Greene County Housing Authority.
In other business, the Eutaw City Council:
• approved payment of November claims and bills;
• heard a report that Mason and Gardner, CPA’s were updating the city computer system to handle the digital self-reporting water meters;
• were introduced to new police officer, Patrick Shearry, of Scoba, Mississippi, who has completed officer training; and told by Chief Coleman that two other officers: Marlo Jackson and Tommie Johnson Jr. are planning to attend the police academy training in Tuscaloosa;
• approved travel for Councilman Joe L. Powell to attend a committee meeting of the Alabama League of Municipalities
• deferred the December 27, 2016 meeting due to the holidays; and set December 23 and 26 and January 2 as official holidays.
Mayor Steele reported that the city employees were working to fix leaks in the water system to increase water pressure for the system. Work will soon be starting on the major $3.1 million approved USDA Rural Development water project. The Mayor also announced that work was about to begin on the resurfacing of Prairie Avenue.
Council members reported problems with street lights on Springfield Avenue and the need to remove a dilapidated house on Tuscaloosa Street adjacent to the Eutaw Elderly Village.
Councilwoman Sheila Smith asked about the policies on vicious dogs. She was told by the Mayor and Chief of Police that vicious animals, like Rottweilers, Pit Bulls and Doberman Pinchers had to be identified and secured by their owners to prevent attacking and biting people. “Stray dogs in Eutaw, have always been a problem and we have to pay animal control from Tuscaloosa to round them up and carry them away, “ said Chief Coleman. Smith said, “ I hope this policy on vicious dogs is being carried out because people have been bitten and intimidated by dogs in recent days.”
At its regular meeting on Monday night, December 12, 2016, the Greene County Commission agreed to submit a grant proposal on behalf of The Alabama Gulf Coast Railroad to the FASTLANE II program of the U. S. Department of Transportation.
The Alabama Gulf Coast Railroad runs from Columbus, Mississippi to the ports of Mobile, Alabama Pensacola, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. The 348-mile railroad provides freight services to industries in Pickens, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Wilcox, Monroe and Escambia counties in Alabama; and Escambia and Baldwin counties in Florida.
The proposed project will provide support for major and minor improvements to 114 bridges along the route of the railroad. These improvements will allow the use of 286,000 pound standard maximum weight freight cars, so customers can increase their shipping capabilities and competitiveness.
The project costs a total of $16.1 million. The A&GC Railroad has contributed $7 million, the Florida DOT has made a 5% match at $ 769,000 and the DOT FASTLANE grant request is for $ 8.3 million. The Railroad needed a state or county government sponsor to submit the grant. The Greene County Commission agreed to be a sponsor and will receive some administrative fees for serving as the fiscal agent for the grant.
The Greene County Commission received a financial report from Paula Bird, County Finance Officer, showing total expenses for the two months (October and November 2016) of the fiscal year were $1,276,482.50, which is 11.11% of the budget and in line with the projections for the year. She also reported $ 3.54 million in cash on hand; $681,151 and $390,094 in bond sinking funds; and an escrow for Greenetrack funds of $83,343.In other business, the Commission:
• approved travel for staff to training programs,
• approved County Engineers request to change County Road 119 to a dirt road,
• adopted holiday calendar for Dec. 23 and Dec. 30,
• employed Vernon Nickson, as van driver for the Eutaw Nutrition Center,
• extended County Engineers contract until December 2021.
At the Greene County Commission’s work session held Wednesday, April 6, 2016, Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. presented a document from Greenetrack CEO Luther Winn offering $600,000 to settle the outstanding lease payments due to the county from Greenetrack. The offer presented in the Commission’s work session indicated that Greenetrack would pay $250,000 as lease payment for 2013; $150,000 for 2014; $100,000 for 2015; and $100,000 for 2016.
At the following monthly meeting held Monday, April 11, 2016, the County Commission voted to reject that offer from Luther Winn and Greenetrack, Inc. The Commission supported a motion directing the Chairperson to inform Winn in writing that the last lease agreement was set at a payment of $250,000 annually and at this time discussions on a new agreement were necessary.
Greene County and Greenetrack, Inc. own jointly the physical property where Greenetrack operates simulcasting dog and horse racing as well as the electronic bingo operations. Greenetrack and the County Commission had an agreement in which Greenetrack, Inc. would pay a designated amount for use of the county’s portion of the property. The current 20 year lease agreement was reached by the two parties in 2008 with Greenetrack committing to pay the county $250,000 per year. Reportedly, this agreement stated that the lease amount could be re-negotiated every 5 years. If there was no re-negotiation, the current lease payment would continue. There was no re-negotiated lease agreement between the parties since 2008.
Based on the 2008 agreement Greenetrack owes the county $1 million dollars in lease fees.
The County Commission agreed to extend, for an additional 10 years, a one cent sales tax which supports the Greene County Health System. That sales tax generates approximately $35,000 per month for the hospital system. The county’s authorization included language which would allow the hospital to pursue other financial assistance against this guaranteed sales tax revenue. County CFO, Paula Bird reported the total funds in banks as of March 16, 2016 as follows: Citizen Trust Bank $2,398,717.49; Merchants & Farmers Bank $1,636,341.33; CD Bond Fund Investments $566,145.29; Bank of New York $575,610.26. The CFO reported one budget amendment request from Sheriff Jonathan Benison to move $8,000 from the fuel account to the account for repairs to motor vehicles. The Commission approved this request as well as the financial, claims, revenue and expenditures reports presented by Bird.
Mrs. Joyce Pham and Ms. Katie Powell were appointed to serve on the Housing Authority of Greene County Board of Directors for Districts 5 and 2, respectively. The appointment for District I was tabled.
The Commission also tabled the J.C. Poole Library Board appointments for Districts 1 and 3.
In other business the Commission approved the following:
* Travel requests for employee training: Rhonda French – Payroll Certification Program; Tanesha Mack and Blake McMillian – ACCA Jail Training; Jeremy Rancher – Child Abuse Training; Iris Sermon and Hodges Smith – EMITS; Iris Sermon – Fusion; Commissioners Brown, Cockrell and Williams – Prattville Training.
* Resolution regarding the Abatement of Taxes and support of the passage of HB 169 and SB 96.
* Resolution adopting a Title VI Plan for ALDOT grant (Nutrition Program).
* Resolution approving the 2016 Sales Tax Holiday.
* Resolution approving the Finley McRae Cemetery.
* Board of Education’s request to use lawn of the former Miles College building for a parent cookout on April 22, 2016.
At its March 14, 2016 meeting, the Greene County Commission defeated an attempt to legalize the Sunday sale of alcoholic beverages in the county. The motion for the same was presented by Commissioner Allen Turner, Jr. and seconded by Commissioner Corey Cockrell. Voting against the proposal were Commissioners Tennyson Smith, Michael Williams and Lester Brown.
The financial report including budget adjustments were presented by Mrs. Paula Bird, Finance Director. Bird’s budget adjustments indicated that Sheriff Jonathan Benison will increase his supplement toward the Sheriff and Jail Budget in the amount of $133,360. Previously budgeted amount of $44,500 was for the final payment on six sheriff department vehicles making a total supplement of $177,860 for this fiscal year ending September 30, 2016.
Finance Director Bird presented other revenue changes in the General Fund 001 account: Increase in the bingo payroll line item represents the amount the sheriff previously paid for the Temporary Restraining Order payroll through the first payroll in January. According to Bird, “The ‘revenue’ increase for a transfer in from the Bingo funds that we are anticipating for the 8 months ending 9/30/16 in the amount of $258,800 will cover $244,397 of the increased Sheriff and Jail Budget ($133,360 + 244,397 = $377,757 increased expenditure budget). The remaining $14,403 transfer covers the last payroll in January for the TRO employees.” Expenditures changes reported by Bird included the following: Sheriff Budget increase $222,808.45; Jail Budget increase $154,948.77; TRO Employee payroll costs through January $139,587.02; Fund 050 where county deposits bingo proceeds – Transfer into General Fund $258,800 (To cover Sheriff and Jail Budget Increases); Transfer into Matching Aid $432,000 (Fund used for road projects).
In other business the county acted on the following:
* Approved retail beer license application of Hazam LLC dba Clinton Food Mart.
* Approved levying of 2016 Alcohol License fee.
* Approved TECTA American for courthouse roof replacement.
* Approved Engineer’s request for bridge projects – Flag Road, County Roads 220 and 69.
* Approved job description modification for equipment operator I, II, and III.
* Approved loan from Merchants & Farmers Bank for two Mack trucks and one Low Boy.
* Approved payment of mileage to Homeland Security for repair of equipment.
Approved travel for staff conferences and training workshops.
Tabled consideration of work at Montgomery Recreation Center in Knoxville.
Tabled Miles College Building request.
The meeting adjourned. There was no public comment.