Marengo County Commission approves $20M budget in Tuesday meeting

Phillip Spence, right, post surgeon for the Marengo County unit of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, accepts a resolution from Commission Chairman John Crawford Jr., passed by the Commission to proclaim Sept. 15 as POW/MIA Recognition Day. (WAW | Jan McDonald)

Marengo County will operate with $20,118,622.52 for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 after the County Commission voted to adopt the budget Tuesday. Estimated expenses for the year are expected to be $17,369,274.28.

That will leave a difference of restricted funds of $2,749,348.24.

The Commission made it possible for Demopolis voters will have a chance to approve a 3 mil tax renewal for Demopolis schools by putting the issue on the December ballot.

Demopolis City Schools Supt. Kyle Kallhoff said the tax is renewed every 10 years and brings in some $225,000 per year to the school system.  He said the funds in the past have been used for nurses, transportation and School Resource officers.

Only ballots in Demopolis will have the tax issue.

Phillip Spence, post surgeon for the Marengo County unit of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, accepted a resolution passed by the Commission to proclaim Sept. 15 as POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The resolution “honors the commitments and the sacrifices made by our nation’s prisons of war and those who are still missing in action.

County Engineer Ken Atkins presented bids on road repair materials. Commissioners approved the lowest bidder for each item with the stipulation that the bids meet specifications.

Also approved at the meeting was a contract with the Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center. The contract, renewed annually, guarantees one bed per day.

Juvenile Probation Officer Darren Glass said if the county uses more than 365 days, it will be charged $60 per bed per day.

Commissioner Jason Windham forwarded a request from the Demopolis Industrial Development Board for a contribution toward the ribbon-cutting for Two Rivers Lumber Company, now set for Oct. 19.

Windham said the Marengo County Economic Development Authority and the IDB also are helping to pay for the event.

The Commission voted to contribute $1,000, but the money was made as a budget amendment to MCEDA, since the county cannot directly give to the company.

Probate Judge Laurie Hall told commissioners that the primary election went well, with only one complaint about moving a polling place.

Commissioner Freddie Armstead thanked all of Marengo County for the effort to help Hurricane Harvey victims. He said the Demopolis Fire Department especially went above and beyond to man the trailers that held the items that were donated.

In other action, the Commission approved:

  • Leaving the Tobacco Tax CD at Sweet Water State Bank.
  • The Grand Jury Report.
  • The first step in declaring Peace Lane a public road.
  • A consultant for work on Sparks Road.

Marengo County Commission moves voting locations, discusses bereavement leave

Personnel issues took center stage at the Marengo County Commission meeting Tuesday. Commissioners updated the personnel policy on bereavement leave and voted on life insurance coverage for both current and retired employees.

In the current personnel policy, employees are expected to take bereavement leave out of their sick or vacation times. Probate Judge Laurie Hall said other counties have separate bereavement leave policies when a member of an employee’s immediate family dies.

After a lengthy discussion, Commissioner Jason Windham moved to allow employees two days of paid bereavement leave. If any more is needed, it will be taken from sick or vacation days.

If an employee doesn’t have sufficient vacation or sick days, the county will loan him the leave until sufficient time is accumulated.

Commissioner Freddie Armstead added a bit of levity to the discussion when he said, “Let me tell you something. Black folks, you die and they lay them out and bury them the next week. White folks you die and they bury you tomorrow.”

The Commission unanimously voted to accept the first of three proposed life insurance policies provided by Minnesota Life Insurance, effective for three years.

The proposal would cost both current and retired employees $18.96 per year, with the county matching the amount. The 31 current county retirees would receive $4,500 in life insurance, and employees, $10,000.

Commissioners rejected the plan that each employee would pay $78.36 per year with the county’s cost greatly reduced or a third option based on age.

In other action, the Commission:

Approved a letter of support for West Alabama Public Transportation.

  • Voted for a Hazard Mitigation Grant Resolution for Thomaston which is planning a community safe room.
  • Approved a resolution changing the Back to School Sales Tax Holiday from August to July in conjunction with state action.
  • Heard Judge Hall’s report on the changing of election dates for the U.S. Senate. The first primary will be Aug. 15, with a runoff Sept. 22, if needed. The general election will be Dec. 12.

After an executive session, commissioners voted to relocate the Taylor voting location to Thomaston, the Putnam site from the Old Store to the Putnam Baptist Church, the Nanafalia site from the Old School to the Nanafalia Baptist Church and the Aimwell site from the Aimwell Baptist Church to Sweet Water Town Hall.

The Commission also voted to allow Frazer Lanier to explore the option of refinancing the county’s current bond issue and look into a new bond issue to support Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital in Demopolis.