Commission moves forward with plan to pay off debt

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Chilton County Commission unanimously approved using all future funds from the simplified sellers use tax toward paying off debt at its Jan. 25 meeting.

Commissioner Randell Kelley was absent.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell said he and Commission Chairman Jimmie Hardee had worked with county administrator Sylvia Singleton to determine a revenue stream that could be dedicated to paying off debt.

“I don’t want that money to get pulled away from servicing the debt through other mechanisms,” Parnell said.

Last year, the simplified sellers use tax generated $938,000 for the county, according to Parnell.

He said this amount is about what the county had been paying annually on debt service.

The commission also approved moving forward with a contract with Roofing Solutions for repairs to the courthouse roof, pending review by the commission attorney Roger Bates.

“We don’t want to put another patch on this courthouse because we are looking to either build or buy, but we have to get this water problem under control,” Hardee said.

He said leaving the roof as is was causing damage to other parts of the building.

Roofing Solutions had been the lowest bidder, and the price was renegotiated to $155,875 to be paid out of the capital improvement fund.

“It hurts my soul to continue spending all this money on this building, but you got to keep yourself dry,” Parnell said.

County Engineer Tony Wearren was influential in the renegotiation of the price.

“Tony did a great job in saving taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars,” Parnell said.

Later, funding that might be available from the state for improving access to broadband was discussed. Bates said the legislature was expected to consider creating a constitutional amendment to allow CARES Act funds to be used toward broadband infrastructure through private companies in its regular session. This amendment would have to be approved by the state’s voters. Commissioner Allen Williams asked what information the Industrial development Authority had based on its broadband study. IDA board member Allen Caton said the study shows that 1/3 of Chilton County does not have access to broadband internet, and the IDA’s grant writer was pursuing avaible grants. Williams said having the study would put them ahead of some other areas, if public funds became available.

Bates said how much money the commission was willing to invest into the idea is the first important question. He suggested working with the IDA’s grant writer to develop a plan.

“This issue that we have with internet becomes a civil rights issue,” Parnell said. “… When you have kids in rural areas, who don’t have internet and schools are sending them home over and over again for COVID and COVID exposure and all of those kinds of things, these kids do not have an equal opportunity to education.”

During the public comments portion of the meeting, the commission approved allowing a historic marker about the USS Chilton to be placed near the courthouse.

“The USS Chilton served this country faithfully for more than 30 years beginning in 1943 in the invasion of Okinawa, one of the most fierce naval battles during the war,” Billy Singleton said, while requesting permission for the marker.

The USS Chilton Association had contacted Singleton for ideas on how to promote the ship as the 50th anniversary of it being decommissioned nears.

“They will pay for this 100%,” Singleton said.

During the meeting, the commission approved:

  • Joining the Endo Pharmaceuticals opioid litigation class action lawsuit settlement. Bates said this is a statewide settlement that cities and counties can join.
  • Pay increases for two employees.
  • Paying for the plumbing repairs and repairing an industrial kitchen hood.
  • Appointing Jason Calhoun to the Chilton County industrial Development Authority to fill the unexpired term of Liz Huntley, which ends Sept. 24, 2023.
  • Appointing Gina Whatley to the Central Alabama Wellness Board to fill the unexpired term of Williams, which ends April 1, 2025.
  • Republic Services handling trash pickup for Minooka Park.
  • Providing internet service for the Disabled Veterans Office.