LaPorsha Brown takes her father’s seat on County Commission; Chairman signs Greenetrack Settlement Resolution; approves ARPA funds allocation

LaPorsha Brown, her daugther Peyton Brown and District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne
Linette Brown, LaPorsha Brown, her daugther Peyton Brown and District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne

The Greene County Commission opened its March 14, 2022 meeting with newly sworn-in Commissioner LaPorsha Brown representing District 1. Ms. Brown was appointed by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey to fill the unexpired tern of the late Mr. Lester Brown, LaPorsha’s father. LaPorsha was sworn in Friday, March 11 by Greene County District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, and will serve until the new commissioner for District 1 is selected in the General Election in November.
Ms. Brown also followed in her Father’s role as she was selected to serve as Vice Chairperson of the Commission. She received three votes for vice chair and Commissioner Roshanda Summerville received two votes.
The commission approved option one relative to the Greenetrack settlement on past due rent to the county for use of its share of Greenetrack property. The settlement resolution calls for $800,000 to be paid to the county by Greenetrack in five annual installments of $160,000. The specific payment plan requires an annual payment of $260,000 with $160,000 toward repayment of past rent and $100,000 in current rent payment. This rental settlement is for two years followed by a renegotiation of the current rental payment amount only. The commissioners approved the settlement on a four to one vote with Commissioner Corey Cockrell voting no.
Commission Chairperson, Allen Turner, stated that he has signed the Resolution agreement and now Greenetrack’s CEO and President, Luther Winn, must sign for it to go into effect.
The county’s Roads Department capital funding project received unanimous approval by the commissioners as well as the Franchise Agreement with Charter Communications regarding broadband services in the county. At the work session held March 9, the commission was informed by Robert Smith Charter Communications that the federal government is financing the broad band in specific areas of Greene County. The franchise agreement is needed for the right-of-way, which will provide a 5% feee to the county when the project is operating. Once the network is in, it will be possible to extend the service to other areas of the county.
The commission approved a Positive Pay arrangement for all bank accounts assuring that only listed checks will be paid.
An Employee Association bank account, which was dormant with a minimal balance, will be closed with the funds to be deposited in the general fund account.
The commission approved establishing a rainy day fund and a public works fund with $500,000 from bingo monies allocated to each fund. The commission also adopted a Fund Balance Policy requiring reserve funds. This policy was approved with four votes for; commissioner Corey Cockrell voted no.
In the commission’s recent work session the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds were discussed, noting that the county has $204,646.78 remaining and an additional $787,733.50 allocated. The commission approved a plan for expending these funds which include the following: Each commission district would be allocated up to $100,000 for qualified ARPA projects; $300,000 to the Highway Department; $150,000 for Essential Worker Pay; approximately $5,000 each to the Activity Center and the Highway Department for multi media upgrades; Approximately $10,000 each for Courthouse and Activity Center bathroom renovations. Remaining funds to be allocated later.
The commission approved a request from the Greene County Board of Education for an agreement that the county will turn over to the board moneys from millage taxes already prescribed to the board.
CSFO, Macaroy Underwood presented the commission an update on FY 2022 refunding bonds cited below.

County Refunds Bonds, Saving $336,000
Greene County Commission approved its Series 2022 Refunding Bonds in the par amount of $3,655,000 to refund its Series 2007 Bonds generating a savings of $336,316.81 or 8.72% savings. Several weeks ago, the county authorized Piper Sandler & Co. and finance to review current market conditions to determine if the county’s outstanding debt could be refunded (refinanced) at a lower interest rate to save more than 3%. This process is similar to refinancing your home mortgage and it leads to issuance of the County’s Series 2022 Refunding bonds reducing the county’s annual debt service payments by $50,000 per year from 2023 through 2037 (over the remaining life of the bonds). The annual debt service payments are secured by Road & Bridge Ad Valorem Tax and Capital Improvement fund revenue; therefore, the county will have additional funds for road projects over the next 14 years.

Commission uses CARES funds to equip courthouse with remote access for conferences, training, and court sessions

At the Greene County Commission meeting, held Monday, January 11, 2021, Macaroy Underwood, CPA, noted that additional technology capacity, authorized by the Commission, has been installed in the William M. Branch (county) Courthouse. The new equipment will allow the commissioners to conduct or attend conferences and training workshops remotely, as well as to live-stream the commission’s local meetings. The monitors and cameras will allow the judges to hold remote court sessions. Macaroy noted that the foyer entrance to the courthouse is also equipped for public wi-fi access. Courthouse personnel will receive training relative to use of the new equipment and their courthouse duties.
The county invested approximately $20,000 from federal CARES funds to cover cost of equipment purchase, installation and training.
In new business before the commission, the body approved a resolution, presented by County Engineer, Willie Branch, accepting the Community Development Black Grant and authorizing the commission chairperson to sign the accompanying paperwork. At the Greene County Commission meeting, held Monday, January 11, 2021, Macaroy Underwood, CPA, noted that additional technology capacity, authorized by the Commission, has been installed in the William M. Branch (county) Courthouse. The new equipment will allow the commissioners to conduct or attend conferences and training workshops remotely, as well as to live-stream the commission’s local meetings. The monitors and cameras will allow the judges to hold remote court sessions. Macaroy noted that the foyer entrance to the courthouse is also equipped for public wi-fi access. Courthouse personnel will receive training relative to use of the new equipment and their courthouse duties.
The county invested approximately $20,000 from federal CARES funds to cover cost of equipment purchase, installation and training.
In new business before the commission, the body approved a resolution, presented by County Engineer, Willie Branch, accepting the Community Development Black Grant and authorizing the commission chairperson to sign the accompanying paperwork.The county was awarded a CDB Grant in the amount of $385, 000, of which $350,000 is to be paid from grant funds and $35,000 is to be paid for using local in kind labor and equipment matching funds.
The grant was awarded by ADECA to construct improvements on several roads throughout the county.
In the financial report to the commission, CEO Macaroy noted the following bank balances as of December 20, 2020: Citizen Trust Bank – $3,891,168.27; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $2,886,877.41; Total Investments – $1,148,604.63; Total claims paid for December – $598,159.92, with total electronic claims paid at $57,323.67.
The commission noted that courthouse personnel remain on ac rotating schedule, as a continued precaution relative to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising positive rates in Greene County. The various offices will serve the public on a first come basis, no appointment needed, but the courthouse will close at 3:00 pm until further notice.

County partners with BBCF for advanced funds to purchase COVID related items/services

The Greene County Commission met in its regular session, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 with all commissioners in attendance. The agenda presented was approved with an addendum, offered by Commissioner Corey Cockrell, proposing that Bingo funds received by the county be separated from the country’s general funds and only spent when authorized by the County Commission. The proposal was approved.
The County Commission also agreed that any additional items and/or services related to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and approved by the state, would be purchased with advance funds available through the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF). Once the county receives its CARES reimbursement, BBCF would be refunded the advance funds provided. This arrangement with BBCF allows the county to make needed purchases without tying up local funds or making other budget adjustments. To date, the county has expended approximately $220,000 in COVID related expenditures. Greene County has been allotted a total of $500,000 in CARES money.
BBCF, which raised these earmarked funds to assist local communities, has a similar arrangement with other county and municipal governments in its service area.
The commission approved a staggered schedule for county employees through the end of this calendar year. The county offices will remain open, but will serve citizens by appointment only.
County offices will be closed for the holidays on December 24 and 25, 2020 as well as on January 1, 2021.
The commission approved a one-time payment to employees at the rate of $300 for part-time employees and $550 for full time employees.
Commission Chairperson, Roshanda Summerville, announced the following commission committee appointments: Commissioner Lester Brown is assigned Education; Commissioner Corey Cockrell is assigned Highway and Solid Waste; Commissioner Allen Turner is assigned Public Safety and Health; Commissioner Tennyson Smith is assigned Industrial Development and Summerville is assigned to Personnel and Finance.
In other business, the commission acted on the following:
Tabled consideration of draft suit related to Commission vs Greene County Sheriff.
Approved extension of exemption application to January 18, 2021.
Approved engineer hiring additional staff for paving.
Approved hiring personal property clerk.
Approved match for 2021 HRRR Grant (Bridges without guardrails).
Approved modification of the 2020 HRR grant to include just two sites.
Approved three year participation plan for liability coverage renewal (related to bridges).
Approved advertising for solid waste driver.
Approved Red Cross Agreement, relative to county providing use of facility during disaster recovery assistance.
The County CFO, Macaroy Underwood presented the following bank balances as of November 20, 2020. Citizen Trust Bank – $3,848,524.22; Merchant & Farmers Bank – $2,845,573.19; Investments – $1.076,756.46. Bank of New York – Report not available.
Underwood reported the following claims paid for November: General Fund – $$86,999.60; Gasoline – $51,911.28; Appraisal Fund – $$1,098.93; Solid Waste – $17,942.41;
Senior Citizen Fund – $1,108.84; Federal match – $436.34. Electronic claims paid totaled $75,827.09.

Commission hires Underwood as CFO; addresses budgetary issues with Sheriff; and plans when COVID-19 occurs among staff

Macaroy Underwood

At its regular meeting held Monday, July 13, the Greene County Commission approved hiring Macaroy Underwood, CPA, of Vestavia, AL, as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The proposed agreement with Underwood provides for a two month employment beginning August 1 and continuing through September 30, 2020, when the county’s fiscal year ends. The commission and Underwood will re-negotiate his contract prior to September 30 with a term not to exceed four years.
Underwood’s compensation for the initial two month is proposed at approximately $5,000 per month, with said compensation to be increased with the new contract beginning October. 1, 2020. The proposed CFO’s schedule includes at least 30 hours per week, four days per week, with two days in the County Commission’s office and two days virtually.
The position of County CFO has been vacant since Paula Bird resigned February 29, 2020, after an employment of more than eight years with the county.
Following an executive session, the commission approved adding two Resolutions to the agenda. Resolution 7-13-20 addresses the budgetary issues between the commission and the sheriff regarding the additional employees in the sheriff’s department for whom Sheriff Jonathan Benison previously committed to provide resources. Reportedly, the commission is proposing definitive action relative to the overstaffing in the Sheriff’s Department.
At its regular meeting held Monday, July 13, the Greene County Commission approved hiring Macaroy Underwood, CPA, of Vestavia, AL, as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The proposed agreement with Underwood provides for a two month employment beginning August 1 and continuing through September 30, 2020, when the county’s fiscal year ends. The commission and Underwood will re-negotiate his contract prior to September 30 with a term not to exceed four years.
Underwood’s compensation for the initial two month is proposed at approximately $5,000 per month, with said compensation to be increased with the new contract beginning October. 1, 2020. The proposed CFO’s schedule includes at least 30 hours per week, four days per week, with two days in the County Commission’s office and two days virtually.
The position of County CFO has been vacant since Paula Bird resigned February 29, 2020, after an employment of more than eight years with the county.
Following an executive session, the commission approved adding two Resolutions to the agenda. Resolution 7-13-20 addresses the budgetary issues between the commission and the sheriff regarding the additional employees in the sheriff’s department for whom Sheriff Jonathan Benison previously committed to provide resources. Reportedly, the commission is proposing definitive action relative to the overstaffing in the Sheriff’s Department.Resolution 7-13-20(A) addresses the county’s process for protecting employees and sanitizing facilities when an employee has contracted COVID-19 or been exposed to the same. This Resolution confirms that when any employee in a department is infected with COVID-19, that county department will be closed and the employees will be required to secure COVID-19 testing and provide the results to the department head. The premises will be professionally cleaned and the department will re-open with employees who test negatively.
In other business, the commission approved repairing potholes at Robert Brown Middle School as well as re-appointments to the E-911 Board. Alonzo Thompson was re-appointed from District 1 and Johnny Isaac was re-appointed from District 4.
In her report to the commission, Burke provided the following General Fund Budget Recap by Account, Budget Allocation, Actual Spent to Date and Percent Remaining in that account:
Commission – Budget – $488,448.50, Spent – $399,924.57, Remaining – 19%; Circuit Court Judge – Budget -$1,800, Spent -$1,168.66, Remaining – 35%; District Judge – Budget – $1,800; Spent – $1,168.65, Remaining – 35%; Circuit Clerk – Budget $4,300, Spent – $3,599.88, Remaining – 14%; District Attorney – Budget – $6,575, Spent – $4,988.91, Remaining 24%; Court Reporter – Budget$1,198, Spent – $899.55, Remaining – 25%; Probate Judge – Budget – $254,845.36, Spent – $202,301.73, Remaining – 27%. Appraisal – Budget – $283,661.43, Spent – $155,398.95; Remaining – 50%; Revenue Commission – Budget -$203,282,14, Spent – 155,157.49, Remaining – 30%; Elections – Budget – $86,468.25, Spent – $58,098.70, Remaining – 23%; Board of Registrars – Budget -$65,964, Spent – $44,701.38, Remaining 32%; Maintenance – Budget -$193,143.40, Spent – $148,145.51, Remaining – 22%; Sheriff – Budget – $877,051.97, Spent – $772,842.84, Remaining 11%; Jail – Budget – $630,446.38, Spent – $509,405.08, Remaining – 18%; EMA – Budget – $48,943.10, Spent – $35,081.53, Remaining – 28%; Coroner – Budget – $31,384.50, Spent – 17,740.70, Remaining – 42%; Youth Services – Budget – $1,800, Spent $1,800, Remaining 0%; E911 – Budget – $30,000, Spent – $30,000, Remaining – 0%; Library – Budget – $20,320, Spent – $10,051.51, Remaining – 50%; Board of Education – Budget – $4,000, Spent – $4,000, Remaining – 0%; Total General Fund Budget – $3,195,432.03, Spent – $2,540,509.61, Remaining – 27% overall.