County now enforcing new vehicle tag fee

Through miscommunication and misinformation, the Marengo County Commission did not learn of the passage of a vehicle tag fee by the state legislature in 2012 until last week.

That means the county has missed four months of collecting the $5 fee from owners who are registering their vehicles.

The lapse was reported in the County Commission meeting Tuesday, and the fee now is being collected. The tax will go toward funding the county’s Economic Development Authority.

In making the report, Brenda Tuck, EDA director, said the county has some 14 prospects that are being pursued at this time. Eight of them are for the Inter-Modal Complex in Demopolis, two others in Demopolis, two in Linden and one each in Sweet Water and Thomaston.

Emergency Management Authority director Kevin McKinney and Stacy McKean, grant consultant with Grant Management LLC, received approval from the commission for a formal resolution accepting the grant to build five emergency community shelters in the county.

The acceptance gives the county a three-year period to complete site information and construct the shelters. Total cost of all five is $459,743. The grant is for $344,807, and the county is responsible for a 25 percent match either in cash or in-kind services of some $115,000.

If the county doesn’t build all five, the remaining funds will be returned. The proposed sites include Foscue Park and St. Paul’s Church in Demopolis and one each in Faunsdale, Dixon’s Mills and Nanafalia.

County Engineer Ken Atkins received commission approval to purchase two magnetic traffic counters at a total cost of $5,000 to replace those that were stolen.

He presented a list of priorities for RAMP funding to construct two bridges and resurface several roads in the county.

Atkins said the county will continue to apply for funding for infrastructure projects from AlaTom since the water project for the eastern part of the county did not receive approval. He said several other avenues are being pursued for the water project. The county would tie in with the West Dallas Water Authority in Sardis to provide water for the unserved area of eastern Marengo.

A request by Sharon Barkley, Revenue Commissioner, for approval to set up a website allowing online payments was tabled for further study.

Commissioner Freddie Armstead had questions about the effectiveness of such a site and the cost of maintaining it.

Barkley said the initial cost of $4,000 by the web design and maintenance firm Sturgis is covered by Flagship GIS. In her budget Barkley has allowed for the $500-per-month fee to cover the cost of the site. The funds were made available when two other vendors were dropped this year: TMA, a personal property auditing company, and SDS, whose services are handled by Flagship GIS.

Those paying taxes on line would have the option of using a credit card or PayPal, which would charge 30 cents for each transaction plus 2.2 percent of the total.

The website can be expanded to include links to all county offices and services, Barkley continued.

In other action, the commission approved:

•Hiring Linda Glass as an appraiser.

•Hiring Sheree McCuiston for the jail.

•The appointment of Robert Schamburger to the Water Board

•2013 holidays for county employees.

•Permission for Meredith Hammond to attend a financial workshop in April.

•Merit raises for Hammond, Joan Daniels and Pearl Williams.