Commission approved budget with raise for employees and weight limit agreement with ASG

Published 9:12 am Thursday, September 27, 2018

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

A budget with a pay raise for county employees, and a weight limit agreement on trucks with Alabama Sand & Gravel highlighted the Monday, Sept. 24 meeting of the Lowndes County Commission in Hayneville.

The commission unanimously approved a fiscal year 2018-2019 budget that includes a 5 percent cross the board pay raise for employees and one-time $600 pay increase to be given in November.

The budget includes revenues of $12,002,267 and expenses of $12,260,316l26 for a deficit of $248,059.22. However, the county expects to carry a balance forward of $416,248 for a positive balance of $200,048.28, according to numbers provided by County Administrator Jackie Thomas.

Commissioner Robert Harris suggested that instead of a 5 percent pay increase and one-time $600 increase, each employee be given a $1 per hour raise plus the one-time $600 increase. He said, “One dollar gives people more on their check.” He also said the 5 percent only helped those in the higher pay brackets.

Over the objections of Commissioners Robert Harris and Joshua Simmons, the commission also approved an agreement with Alabama Sand and Gravel (ASG) which limits the weight of trucks hauling from the Meadows Property to a rail spur at the John Co. site to 70,000 pounds.

The lower weight limit will not apply to trucks going from the Meadows Property all the way to Selma.

In addition, ASG will pay $55,558.16 for Lowndes County Road 40 repairs as well as supplemental severance tax of 25 cents per ton until the company begins utilizing a rail spurt at the Meadows Property site.

Harris wanted the commission to take County Engineer David Butts’ recommendation together with a geotech study recommendation on the weight limits. And, after the road is repaired to move traffic up Lowndes County Road 29 and back down Lowndes County Road 40 when the trucks are unloaded.

Harris said that Lowndes County 40 was his district and that was his recommendation.

In approving the agreement with ASG, the commission also voted to create a special account for the supplemental severance tax for Lowndes County Road 40.

Commission Chairman Carnell McAlpine called the agreement ASG a “win-win.” He said a rail spur should be in place by December 2019 that is expected to take ASG truck traffic off the road.

Harris said following the vote, “So, my commission just told me it don’t matter what I think about my district.”

County resident Shirley McNamee, who appeared before the commission regarding Lowndes County Road 40, expressed her displeasure with the commission’s agreement with ASG, as well.

McNamee told the commission she was fighting for “a community that is being literally destroyed.” She said 50 percent of the time she travels on Lowndes County Road 40 is spent on the shoulder of the road because of damage the road has sustained since the summer when the mining business (ASG) started.

She listed persons who were run off the road by trucks, as well as damage to vehicles.

ASG Attorney Louis Calligas told the commission that the trucking companies that run the trucks is not Alabama Sand &Gravel. He said, “If someone is running someone off the road that doesn’t have anything to do with the weight of the material in the truck. It might have something to do with driver… but that’s not Alabama Sand & Gravel.”

McNamee also complained about trucks using Brown Hill Road, which she said has been in disrepair for more than three years. She said she has to go 10 to 12 miles out of her way to get to a road she can travel safely on.

Calligas said Alabama Sand & Gravel was satisfied with the proposed agreement.

In other matters, the commission unanimously approved:

County Attorney Hank Sanders pointed out the agreement with Alabama Sand & Gravel is a compromise. He said, “That means the county does not get al it wants. And that means the Alabama Sand & Gravel people do not get all they want.”

  • A contract for computer maintenance for the county tax appraisal, tax assessor and tax collector offices of $75,287.
  • An appropriation of $400 to Sandy Ridge Volunteer Fire Department.
  • Moving the Oct. 8 meeting of the commission to Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 10 a.m. because the county office will be closed for Columbus Day holiday.