County passes car registration fee hike

In a marathon meeting Tuesday, the Marengo County Commission took steps to upgrade the county’s computer system and provide online access to property owners to pay taxes and obtain records.

Sharon Barkley, made a return visit to the commission to provide members with information they had requested at the last meeting concerning companies to design and maintain the Tax Assessor’s site. Barkley requested the Commission approve Sturgis, but after discussion members chose to go with the firm IMS for its lower cost.

One of the factors involved in choosing IMS is that the firm would be able to provide all the services of Sturgis once the county’s computer system is upgraded. Probate Judge Laurie Hall was directed to get a quote to see if bundling the systems for the Probate, Tax and Commission offices, as well as providing off-site access for the Engineering office.

The commission formally passed a resolution implementing the $5 hike in car registration fee. The revenue will be split between the county’s Economic Development Authority and the engineering department for road maintenance in addition to its budgeted income.

Mike Marshall, chairman of the Demopolis Industrial Board, requested financial support from the commission to repair the north entrance to the South Industrial Park. Total cost of the project quoted by H&M Construction is $10,521.

Marshall said the site has needed repairs for a long time, but it now is becoming dangerous to the trucks that use the entrance. County engineer Ken Atkins said his office could help with laying pipe, but it does not have the equipment to widen or pave the road.

Sheriff Richard Bates told the commissioners he has yet to purchase a car with the $25,000 budgeted this year. Instead he wants to use the funds to lease three vehicles and finance the cost through Regions Bank. The bank is offering a loan at 2.83 per cent, which would cost just under the budgeted amount.

The matter was tabled until Commissioner Freddie Armstead can determine how much funding the Sheriff can receive from USDA grants through the Tombigbee Regional Commission.

The county will receive $350,000 through Community Development Block Grants this year, Atkins reported. That will pay for 8-10 miles of leveling and no resurfacing, he said.

Every district needs road repairs, he continued, but the worst are parts of County Roads 36, 39 and 44. The money must be used in areas where at least half of the residents are identified as low income.

Representatives from the Natural Resource Conservation Services and the Marengo County Soil and Water Conservation District thanked the commission for funding the salary of office manager Stephanie Kaylor. They spoke in support of her continued salaried position.

Roy Jordan, supervisor and treasurer of the Soil and Water Conservation District, expressed his disappointment that the county hadn’t used the weed killer provided to spray on cogongrass. Atkins stepped in to say the herbicide had not been approved for right-of-way use.

Jordan said cogongrass is an invasive plant that is spreading throughout the state and causing major problems for farmers.

In other action the commission:

• Approved the tax abatement for Rock-Tenn Company.

• Heard from Spencer Ryan concerning the “Don’t Drop It on Alabama” statewide spring cleanup set April 20-27. Ryan encouraged the commissioners to get involved in their districts using the materials his organization would provide.

• Approved the bid from Demopolis Delivery Service for $16,300 for delivery of the Summer Feeding Program. The bid covers two vans and drivers.

• Approved the hiring of Brandon Paulk as a deputy with the Sheriff’s Department.

• Approved a $40 per month data package for the property assessor’s smart phone.

• Heard an update from Solid Waste Manager John Bell.

• Approved a designated parking spot for vehicles to be inspected by the licensing office.

• Approved the Aimwell Baptist Church as the new voting site for the community.

• Promised help to Brenda Tuck, EDA director, for grading the Linden Industrial Park road until the paving can be completed.

• Approved the hiring of Ann Hunter as a part time employee for the Probate Office.

• Approved the EMA Fund & Tobacco Tax Fund CD rate of .75 percent for 6 months with Sweet Water State Bank.

• Approved county levies for alcohol licensing.