Commission may set up payment kiosks in county

Johnney Ford stands by as Commissioner Calvin Martin reads the resolution honoring A.L. Johnson’s basketball team.

Johnney Ford stands by as Commissioner Calvin Martin reads the resolution honoring A.L. Johnson’s basketball team.

To make it easier for Marengo County residents to pay property taxes and renew license tags, the Marengo County Commission is looking into setting up kiosks at the northern and southern ends of the county.

Probate Judge Laurie Hall and Revenue Commissioner Sharon Barkley presented Will Yarbrough, co-founder of Countyapps, to commissioners Tuesday. Yarbrough said the satellite stations would allow residents to avoid traveling to Linden and waiting in line.

The Commission voted to table the proposal for two months while it investigates Countyapps and the cost of the service.

The kiosks, Hall told the group, would be set up in 24-hour businesses so that residents could have access at all times. Anyone who can use an ATM can navigate the simple system, she said.

The kiosks, she continued, would help those who do not have computer service or are uncomfortable with its technology. A percentage of the cost would be charged to customers to help pay for the service.

Yarbrough said the initial set-up cost for two kiosks would be $8,250, which would include website design and software setup. Monthly charges would be $678. Barkley said she has enough in her budget to pay for the start-up costs.

Commission chairman Freddie Armstead was a vocal opponent to the system. “I don’t see the benefit right now,” he said. “That’s a lot of money.”

But other commissioners were willing to look into the program and work with Countyapps to see if the county can afford the program.

Will Yarbrough standing next to the Countyapps kiosk.

Will Yarbrough standing next to the Countyapps kiosk.

Countyapps is based in Birmingham and has been in business for three years. It serves four counties in the state with the kiosk system, Yarbrough said.

In other business, Armstead closed the door on Sheriff Richard Bates’ actions to try to improve plumbing in the jail after the latest Grand Jury report.

Bates said the parts needed for repairs are obsolete and are difficult to find. Under Armstead’s questioning about the delay in reporting plumbing problems, Bates said he first reported to the Commission in 2011, soon after he took office, that it would take $45,000 for repairs.

Armstead directed him to stop the search for new parts. “We’ll get that taken care of,” he said.

Brenda Tuck, county Economic Development Director, gave an update on economic recruitment initiatives. She said Ron Sparks, director of the Alabama Rural Development Office, has appointed her co-chair of the Skills Training/Workforce Development Committee of the Black Belt Commission.

Tuck also shared a letter from Lisa Mensah, Under Secretary for Rural Development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, complimenting the EDA for its successes.

The commission passed a resolution honoring A.L. Johnson High School Basketball team, its coaches and fans for their success in reaching the Final Four Class A competition.

In accepting the resolution, Coach Johnny Ford said when the team first got to Birmingham, everyone asked where Thomaston was.

“Once we left, everybody knew about Thomaston,” he said. “Hopefully we started something that we can carry on a tradition and continue to represent the school and the citizens and help mold young guys into young men and into great citizens.”

In other action the commission unanimously approved:

  • Hiring James Courtney as a jailer.
  • The county levies for alcohol licensing, which remain the same.
  • EMA & Tobacco Tax CD rate of .75 percent for six months at Sweet Water State Bank.
  • Summer Feeding Program.