Commission shifts ARPA funding, increases pistol permit fee to $25

Published 9:15 am Friday, March 3, 2023

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The Covington County Commission adopted a resolution to shift the county’s ARPA funding to better comply with current guidelines and approved several other items of discussion at a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Under the resolution that was passed, the county’s ARPA funding obligated to fund employees’ supplemental pay will be moved from under public health emergency declaration to general funding. The public health emergency declaration is set to expire March 15. This supplemental pay is $1 per hour for all employees.

“In this resolution, we also indicated the commission’s intent to make this permanent funding of a $1 premium instead of going away for 36 months. Previously, it was not committed permanently,” Chairman Greg White said.

The commission approved a request from Sheriff Blake Turman to increase a pistol permit fee for individuals ages 19-59 from $20 to $25.

“Part of the legislation that was passed in the last year or so included a pistol permit rate change from $20 to $25. However, any county that had local legislation on the books had to comply with the rates in that local legislation. Covington County did have a local act, and Sheriff Turman is asking that we support new legislation that will raise the fee to the allowed $25. The exemptions for seniors 60 and older, veterans, and law enforcement officers will remain in place,” White said.

The commission will not set the $25 fee. “We are simply supporting the sheriff’s request to be in accordance with the law. The legislature will ultimately be tasked with setting the amount of the fee with a local act.” This resolution was adopted.

The commission approved the County Engineer’s department entering into an agreement with the state under the Federal Land Access Program for bridges in and around the Conecuh National Forest.

“County Engineer Lynn Ralls and his staff were able to obtain almost $2 million of federal grants to replace current bridges that are around 50 years old,” White said. “All of these weight-restricted wooden bridges are on dirt roads. The newer bridges will be able to sustain up to a 35-ton load for school buses, farmers, and loggers to travel safely on,” Ralls added.

In other business:

  • The commission approved the re-appointment of Tommy McGaha to a two-year term to the Southeast Alabama Rural Planning Organization’s planning committee. McGaha’s previous term expired in January.
  • The commission approved the re-appointment of Bragg Carter to a six-year term to the Covington County Water Authority board. Carter’s previous term expired Wednesday, March 1.
  • The commission approved the appointment of Connie Bozeman on a six-year term to the South Crenshaw County Water Authority board. Bozeman replaces James Hogg whose term expired Wednesday, March 1.
  • The commission approved the re-appointment of Jed Blackwell and Paul Whatley to one-year terms to the Covington County Recreation board. Their current terms expire Friday, March 10.
  • The commission approved the allocation of office space previously used by the Covington County District Attorney to be re-assigned to the Sheriff to house his county investigators.
  • The commission approved the renewal of an agreement with Rapid Financial Services to provide work-release funds for inmates with a debit card. The commission gave approval with one requirement, that any disputes with the company will be settled in local courts rather than Pennsylvania’s courts where the company is headquartered.
  • The commission approved out-of-state travel for the Sheriff’s Department to send two jailers to attend a “Less Lethal” training course in Oxford, Mississippi, on March 21 and 22. Commission policy states that any out-of-state travel by County officials or employees must be approved by the commission at an open meeting.
  • The commission approved the purchase of a 2014 Ford Taurus for the Sheriff’s Department at a cost of $3,050. The purchase was from law enforcement funds, but this action is necessary for the vehicle to be placed on the county inventory and insured.
  • The commission approved the declaration of a 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis in the Sheriff’s Department to be surplus, so it can be removed from insurance and disposed of.

The next meeting of the Covington County Commission will be held Tuesday, March 14, 9 a.m., at the Covington County Administration Building. The public is invited to attend.