County mileage costs still high

Published 12:03 am Saturday, February 9, 2013

Commission Chairman Bill Godwin said Friday commissioners are continuing to micromanage road projects in their districts, and a procedure must be implemented to stop it.

To begin that process, discussion will be held at next week’s commission workshop and meeting, specifically addressing how to handle citizen complaints about road, bridge and drainage problems.

Four years ago, commissioners voted to move from the district system to the unit system. Under the district system, commissioners oversaw the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the county-maintained roadways. Now, under the unit system, that responsibility falls to the county engineer.

“But what we’ve got going on now is the vestiges of the district system,” Godwin said. “When the transition was made to the unit system, it was voted that any (road and bridge) project should be approved by the commission as a whole. There were and continue to be projects that did not follow that requirement.”

One such road project was the paving of Braswell Road, where Commissioner Harold Elmore lives. It, along with other road construction projects, was temporarily suspended in November, but that project is up for discussion, in addition to the proposed procedure talks.

“What we still have is commissioners who are trying to micromanage the repair and maintenance of the roads, and that puts the engineer in an awkward position,” Godwin said. “People are used to getting their commissioner to get the job done, and that’s fine, but there needs to be a specific way that happens so that everyone involved knows what’s going on.”

Records show that commissioners are still riding the roads in their respective districts.

In December and January, the county paid out $5,287 in mileage reimbursements, which was divided among:

• Godwin, who was paid $1,133, for driving 722 miles in December and 1,296 in January. Trips included training in Montgomery, meeting and workshop attendance, office administration and agency meetings.

• District 1 Commissioner Kenneth Northey, who was paid $605, reportedly drove 670 miles in December and 519 in January for trips to the commission office, ethics training and to check road complaints;

• District 2 Commissioner Joe Barton, who was paid $434 for driving 370 miles in December and 404 miles in January. He reportedly drove to Montgomery for meetings, to the commission office and to inspect roads in his district;

• Elmore, who represents District 3, was paid $2,353 for 2,185 miles driven in December and 2,019 miles driven in January. He lists nearly daily trips down roads in his district; and,

• District 4 Commissioner Carl Turman, who was paid $762 for reportedly driving 893 miles in December and 472 miles in January. Trips included a conference in Montgomery and visits to areas in his district.

Tuesday’s workshop will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the commission chambers and is open to the public.