Commission discusses budget changes for road department

Published 12:13 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2021

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The Chilton County Commission held a work session to discuss budget changes for the upcoming fiscal year on Aug. 3.

Among the department budgets discussed were the road department and the Chilton County Sherriff’s Office.

Much of the time was spent going over budget changes proposed by county engineer Tony Wearren.

Wearren asked for approximately $2.7 million more than what his department had last year.

That additional money would be spent on a variety of things. He listed new equipment, hiring new employees and 2% raises for all his current employees as just a few uses of the additional money.

The commission made it clear that they not only cannot give that much extra money to the department, but they also are not sure that giving the department that much extra money will solve the department’s current issues.

A few of the commissioners felt that there were other problems within the road department besides a lack of money. They felt there is a lack of efficiency within the department, mainly workers milking hours off the clock while not getting work done.

“How can we operate more efficiently?” Commission Randall Kelley asked. “What I’m talking about, it’s a proven fact … We’re paying men for 40 hours a week, and they’re working about 30.”

It was pointed out that the large amount of rain over the course of the summer has made it difficult to get consistent work done, specifically on the roads, which could be cause for a lack of work getting done.

Commission Chairman Joseph Parnell stated that there could be ways to improve this inefficiency. He suggested workers making up lost time on the weekends. If it rains during the week while they are supposed to be working, they can clock out and then work on the weekends if the weather is better.

“If I get rained out at work, my bills are still coming,” Parnell said. “A lot of weekends we’ve got to go make payroll. We don’t like to, but we have to … The vast majority of these guys got paid through all that rain and then on the weekend when the sun was out, and God knows last year I think the sun only shined on Saturdays and Sundays … the roads didn’t get worked.”

At the end of it all, the commission stated that they just did not have that kind of money to give the road department.

“The reality is that we can’t do $3 million more without us taking it away from somewhere,” Parnell said. “But we can do something.”

The commission will look into what amount of extra money can be given to the road department in later meetings.

Also discussed at the meeting was the budget for the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office asked for close to $130,000 more than what was in their budget last year. The commission will also discuss that at future meetings.