Commissioners table dirt road fund proposal

Published 12:30 am Thursday, September 29, 2016

The county commission on Wednesday tabled a resolution that would establish a dirt road paving fund for the county.

The proposed resolution by Chairman Bill Godwin calls for dedicating three sources of revenue for the fund, which includes:

  • Payments from South Alabama Regional Airport Authority;
  • Half of the Alabama Oil and Gas Trust Fund payments; and
  • Alabama Internet sales tax payments.

The resolution calls for the balance of the funds to be carried forward from fiscal year to fiscal year.

Under the proposal, a unanimous vote of the district commissioners is required to spend money for paving; a unanimous vote of all commission members – including the chairman – is needed to use the funds for any other reason.

The estimated annual amount of money would be around $300,000, which county engineer Lynn Ralls said could pay about 1.5 miles of dirt road with asphalt, and a greater distance if a lower grade material were used.

County Commissioner Harold Elmore asked where the county would be taking the money.

County Administrator Karen Sowell told commissioners that with online sales tax being a new thing, it would be hard to gauge how much money they would bring in.

Other monies would be taken out of the general fund and other from oil and gas fund.

But Godwin said that part of the oil and gas trust fund money can be used for building, and half on roads.

“We ain’t going to get much paved,” Commissioner Kenneth Northey said. “We don’t have anything we’re just guessing.”

Godwin told commissioners that at the last airport board meeting, they OK’d a promissory note and as long as there is a lease in effect at the airport, they will get 43 percent of it.

“I want to be open and up front with folks,” Northey said. “We want the fund to be funded. How long with it take to generate it?”

Sowell said she feels that this proposal was taking money away from the General Fund.

She said that since the county commission refinanced its portion of the airport debt and for a shorter amount of time, their monthly payment was more than what the county was paying the airport previously.

Since there was so much confusion, Commissioner Joe Barton asked that they table the resolution until there could be more clarity.