The Jackson County Commission recognized employees who have been serving for many years at the last regular meeting and work session held on Monday, July 25, 2022. Narcotic Investigations Captain Tracy Holman with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) was recognized for having served the county and its citizens for the last 15 years, as was JCSO’s Lavonda Tilley, who has served for 25 years in the front office as a clerk and at the jail. Accounting Supervisor Regina Bass with the Revenue Commission was recognized for 22 years with the county. Mr. Kelvin Clark with Public Works was recognized for 20 years, and Dale Ward, also with Public Works, was recognized for her service of 25 years of dedicated service. Congratulations to all of you. In new business, the commissioners approved a motion for the Hiring Committee’s recommendation for the vacant Real Property Appraiser position in the Revenue Commissioner’s office and two vacant HMTI positions with the Public Works Department.
They also approved a resolution to authorize Jackson County to join the State of Alabama as participants in the current and future opioid settlements. This resolution will also authorize Chairman Bill Nance to sign the agreement. While the exact amount of the portion from this settlement coming to the county is unknown at this time, there will be future settlements reached by the State of Alabama, and these settlements will be divided among, cities, counties, municipalities, etc. The funds will be going into the general fund until such time as the commissioners designate those funds to the needs of the county or to a specific project of their choosing.
At the following work session, the commissioners discussed the Alabama Retirement State Employee Association (ARSEA) retiree bonus that would benefit Jackson County Commission retirees. County Superintendent Bob Manning stated the county’s portion would come to $64,852, would be distributed to the retirees and would be paid out monthly sometime after October 1st of this year. Manning also stated this is a one-time cost only for this year.
This item was scheduled to be put before budget discussions and considered in the 2023 budget which will be active at the beginning of the 2023 fiscal year this fall.
The commissioners later extensively discussed a plan for paving local roads with County Engineer Jonathan Campbell. All commissioners had a packet that contained a list of proposed local roads for consideration, and Campbell was present to discuss the plan(s) in regards to paving with Rebuild Alabama funds, etc.
“We take up Rebuild Alabama in August and with that federal aid, exchange funds so we can kind of take a glimpse of what the funding will be this year. I just passed out the same list that you all are probably familiar with on possibilities for local road resurfacing selection, and those came from road surveys. There are recommendations, so selections, we prefer to be vetted by you all and end selection,” Campbell stated.
According to Campbell, it will take additional funding, plus help from the general fund to accomplish adequate paving and the necessary equipment, manpower and supplies to do it with.
While there are ARPA funds available that could be used for roads, there are also other issues facing the county.
“I know we could use some ARPA funds, and I think there may be some ARPA funds that we can make available. There are other needs that we have in the county that if we don’t use ARPA funds for, that it will fall on the general fund to take care of it, and we do not have general fund monies to do that,” stated Chairman Nance.
Another challenge facing the county is the dipping of the in-lieu-of tax payout that is not adjusting to inflation. Nance stated the county has lost 53% of the TVA in-lieu-of tax revenue, affecting every municipality and activity in Jackson County.
“We’ve been able to use our SSUT (Simplified Sellers Use Tax), but basically all that’s done is kept the general fund flat while inflation has gone up, price of materials has gone up, price of gasoline has gone up. The general fund has not done that,” stated Nance.
Another concern pointed out by Commissioner Jason Venable is the life and longevity of roads and the rate they are being paved. The current life of a chip seal road is 17 1/2 to 18 years. With some roads having been paved almost 10 years ago, it won’t be long before the county is facing an overwhelming surplus of roads that are degrading faster than the roads can be paved, and at a rate that may have some citizens driving from a once paved road to a gravel road. While Public Works is paving, repairing, prepping, etc. as quickly as they can, the county is running into funding problems.
The commissioners will more than likely be holding a special session to discuss just this problem and come up with a solution and a schedule. The date of this special session has yet to be announced as of the date of this publication.
by Martha Smith