County plans for $22K payment

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Covington County Commission will have an added expense for its new budget, Chairman Bill Godwin told fellow commissioners Wednesday.

“I have been meeting with the economic development commission at the airport,” Godwin said. “As you know, DRS plans to leave Jan. 1. We will have to pay part of bond payment.”

The Covington County Economic Development Commission and the South Alabama Regional Airport Authority announced last month that DRS Technologies will not renew its lease on the large hangar at the airport. The lease expires in December.

Godwin said the county’s commitment in helping make the bond payment – along with the cities of Andalusia and Opp and with South Alabama Regional Airport – is $22,500 per month.

“Mr. (Rick) Clifton actively working to pursue somebody to go there,” Godwin said.

County attorney Tom Albritton, who also represents the airport authority, said everyone involved is working hard to secure a new tenant.

“ People aren’t just sitting around waiting for something to happen,” Albritton said.

“This is a situation we did not want to face,” Godwin said. But in the previous two years, the company paid over $2 million in its lease and improvements to facility.

“We were hoping to have employment in it, and for this to be a long-term relationship,” Godwin said. “This has been beneficial.”

Godwin said the increasing difficulty in securing military contracts is the primary reason DRS is leaving Andalusia.

He said the county likely will delay some equipment purchases until a new tenant is found

On a brighter note, commissioners toured Alabama Aerospace Manufacturing in Opp earlier this week, and Commissioner Ken Northey said he was impressed.

“It seems like they’ve got a good plan “ he said. “It looks promising.”

The commission also made a financial commitment to this project earlier this year when the company consolidated its Georgia and Alabama operations in Opp.

“Before the comination, they only had 12 people working in Opp,” Godwin said. “Now they have 27. The will be completely moved from Georgia by Jan. 1.

“This is good for our county, and good for Opp,” he said.

In other business, the commission:

• Was told work has begun on the jail additions.

• Transferred an off-premise beer license at Tiger Quick Stop to the new owners.