Commissioner calling for action

Published 9:12 pm Friday, March 6, 2009

Commissioners plan Monday to discuss a deadline for implementing the county’s move to the unit system.

The county is about halfway through the first discussed three-month deadline to convert road maintenance from the district system to the unit system; however county engineer Darren Capps said at the commission’s last meeting, he expected the move to take another three months — a time frame questioned by District 1 commissioner David Ellis.

Ellis is on Monday’s commission agenda to begin discussions on “nailing a date” to finalize the move.

“We’re about to enter into the second half of our fiscal year, and I’d like to get started (with the unit system) so we can see at least a portion of the savings on it,” Ellis said. “We’ve still got a cash flow shortage, and we need to address it.”

Commissioners voted in January to move the road department’s daily operations and the maintenance, construction, engineering and administration activities related to the county’s road and bridge system under the direct supervision of the county engineer — instead of each district’s elected commissioner.

Ellis said there is one move the county must make immediately — the purchase of a fuel truck.

“I know it’s confusing to people to hear us talk about selling and getting rid of equipment only to turn around and buy more,” he said. “Take the graders for instance. Under the program we have now, we pay $154,000 per grader. We keep it for one year and then turn around and sell it for $143,000 — that means it cost us $9,000 for that grader. You can’t lease one for that cheap.

“I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s the only thing we can do to get some cash flow,” he said. “It’s not a good practice, but it’s the only thing we can do.

“Now, for the unit system to work, two things have to happen — one, we have to do something with those county yards and two, we have to buy a fuel truck,” he said. “Darren (Capps) has a plan worked out, some routes drawn up. We’ve got (district) yards throughout the county. We need to do something with them — sell or lease. That would get some cash flow.

“Secondly, we have to have a way to fuel equipment when out in the field,” he said.

“Outside of those two things, I think it’s as simple as telling the men where to report to work.”

In addition to the unit system deadline, commissioners are scheduled to discuss an attorney general’s opinion regarding burying dead animals, bids for re-roofing the county courthouse and an appointment to the Organized Community Action Program.

Flay Kimbril is scheduled to discuss a road issue in District 2, and representatives from the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission and the Covington Area Transit System will talk about possible funding for the county as a result of the economic stimulus package.