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Commission shares updates on several different projects

By Chris Heaney

LaFAYETTE — At the Chambers County Commission meeting Monday night, updates to several projects were shared with the council and the previously-discussed 2018-19 county budget was officially adopted.

The approved budget lists a total year-end revenue amount of $31,032,988 with a year-end expense total of $30,841,488 as well, leading to a surplus of $191,500. Within these numbers, the commission has forecasted just north of $6.1 million in revenue to the county’s general fund, which is made up of ad valorem tax, county beer and cigarette tax as well as a host of other taxes, while forecasting the same amount in expenditures.

The county commission is expecting to be net-positive in some line items, including the drug task force – $124,190 in projected revenue compared to $113,690 in projected expense, as well as the special courthouse fund, which is projecting $175,100 in revenue compared to $45,615 in expense.

The commission passed the budget unanimously at the end of the meeting with the only comment coming from Commissioner David Eastridge, who thanked County Manager Regina Chambers for her work with the budget.

County Engineer Josh Harvill spoke to the council about the new sign project for the county annex in Lanett.

Since no bids for the new sign came in when a bid invitation was sent on August 27, it was left in the hands of the council to hire their own contractor for the project.

“Basically, when you have a no-bid situation, it frees up the commission to deal with anybody in regards to that,” said County Attorney Skip McCoy. “If I remember correctly, the anticipated cost was less than $15,000, so the commission could deal with a private entity directly in regards to procuring the sign if we are so inclined.”

According to plans, the sign is to be approximately five feet tall and eight feet wide.

Commissioner Debbie Wood said that she spoke to several prospects who explained they did not bid on the project simply because it was too big of a job.

“I spoke with several local companies and asked why they did not bid and they said that, pretty much, they are not set up to build that kind of sign,” she said. “They would have to get another company and sub-contract it out, which costs a lot of money up front. They are just not prepared to do that.”

Harvill also discussed the issue of liquid asphalt with the commission.

With the amount of road work being done on county roads — this summer alone has totaled 73.5 miles resurfaced — Harvill explained that the road crews were in need of access to more of the paving material.

“Liquid asphalt, these are emulsions that are used to pave roads,” he said. “This is separate from our annual bids, because we have to start using this tomorrow.”

He informed the commission on the invitation for bids that were sent out Monday morning.

The invitations detailed the county’s need for not only more asphalt, but a dedicated, 5,500 gallon drop tanker to store it while they worked.

“With a drop tanker, they haul the liquid to us and they literally drop off an asphalt tanker for us to draw off with our distributor and put on the roads,” he explained. “It sits there for up to a month until we draw all of the asphalt off of that load.”

The need for this came out of the fact that Chambers County had been buying their required asphalt piecemeal from Lee County. To save on time, Harvill sent out bid invitations Monday morning, inquiring to companies about the asphalt and tankers.

By the time of the commission meeting three companies had placed bids and Harvill recommended the county work with Ergon Asphalts and Emulsions.

Commissioners  agreed and the motion was passed unanimously.