Commission officially hires new county engineer

Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Staff Writer

The Chilton County Commission announced it has officially hired a new county engineer at its meeting on Feb. 14. After signing the contract, Heath Sexton, formerly county engineer in Dallas County, was hired and will begin work on March 20. Commission Chairman Jimmie Hardee will introduce Sexton to the commission at its meeting on March 28.

The commission held a public hearing to discuss the upcoming renewal of the trade school property tax. Put into effect in 1964, the trade school tax is a property tax that is split 50-50 between the county and the Chilton County Board of Education. The county uses their portion for industrial and rural development, and the school board uses their portion to fund the LeCroy Career Technical Center.

The funds that come in from this property tax are earmarked by the county so that it can only be used for industrial and rural development. The tax has been renewed twice since 1964.

“We have helped with issues at the sheriff’s department, our parks, our IDA funding, and it is a pretty broad scope of what falls under rural and economic development, mental health, too. If it affects you in rural Chilton County, outside of the municipalities, this money has been used to help you at some time,” Commissioner Joseph Parnell said. “This is not a new tax, and it is no additional tax. It is the same tax that you have been paying, and there have been a lot of kids that have come out of that trade school that have benefited greatly from it.”

The commission voted unanimously to support the tax, and it will be sent to state legislature. If approved, voting to either renew or reject the tax will be on the presidential primary ballot in 2024.

The commission also approved unanimously to sell their half of the 526 acres that is jointly owned by the county and the city of Clanton. The commission is selling their 263 acres to the city of Clanton for $1.8 million. The property sits just off Exit 212 on Interstate 65.

Commissioner Allen Williams asked for an update on the 30-day notice served to a land owner on County Road 161 who was obstructing the road with a locked gate. The notice asked the land owner to prove the county closed public access to the road in the past.

The land owner told county attorney Roger Bates he needs more time to gather information. Hardee said the land owner has until the next meeting on Feb. 28 to provide evidence, or the county would have to act.

Also, during the meeting, the commission:

  • Passed a motion to give Hardee permission to negotiate for future property for the new courthouse.
  • Approved Karem Rincon, Steven Bush, Benjamin Merrel and Emily Jade Easterling as full-time, and Billy Davis and Dorothy Mayfield as part-time correction officers.
  • Approved a new full-time janitor and litter department hire.
  • Approved to advertise and hire an assistant park ranger at Higgins Ferry.