Something’s gotta give

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We heard Monday that the Department of Public Safety could expand the number of driver’s license testing days here in Chilton County from two to four.

This move would certainly draw applause from those waiting in line in the worn-out hallways of the Chilton County Courthouse to take their driver’s test, which is administered in a room that — like so many others in the courthouse — lacks the space to meet the county’s needs.

Obviously, the issue is not driver’s license tests but the facility they are conducted in. It only reemphasizes what we already knew — that the courthouse can no longer house all the offices that are crammed under its roof.

While the county commission has a lot on its plate, like paying off a $6 million bond issue taken out for roads and bridges, they should be looking ahead for a solution to this space problem.

The mere thought of building a new courthouse sounds like something the commission wouldn’t want to touch with a 10-foot pole, but there may be other ways the county could find room to function more comfortably.

Perhaps they could lease a structure until a more permanent solution becomes available. It might not be the most attractive building in the world, but perhaps that would be better than losing revenue, if indeed there would be enough revenue to warrant making that move.

According to Probate Judge Bobby Martin, the county receives $1.50 per driver’s license issued. That might not sound like much, but double the testing days per week and factor in traffic from surrounding counties and it could add up.

Perhaps the solution lies within the walls of the courthouse itself. There is not room enough for the courts as it is, so perhaps the county could lease or construct a building for the courts and move the commission chambers and driver’s license testing room to the top floor. Maybe there could even be stimulus funding available for such a project.

Either way, something’s got to give. And this issue will keep coming up until it does.