Cleburne County Commission discusses thousands in extra gravel costs due to rain
by Laura Camper
Jul 08, 2013 | 3535 views |  0 comments | 133 133 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Cleburne County Commission at a Tuesday work session discussed ways to finance thousands of dollars in extra gravel needed for the county’s soggy roads.

Shannon Robbins, Cleburne County engineer, told the commissioners the county’s road department has already overspent its $32,000 budget allocation for gravel by about 50 percent and still needs more to deal with the rainy weather.

“We’re down to probably four loads at the shop,” Robbins said.

The county has 294 miles of dirt road and the wet weather has made those roads slippery, he said. With another week of wet weather predicted, the remaining four loads won’t go far, he added.

So far, the department has spent about $48,000 for gravel this fiscal year, he said. For the last three years, the county would have been fine with just the $32,000 allocation, he said, but this year has been exceptional.

Commissioner Laura Cobb said the residents deserve to have safe roads and the commission needs to provide them. Commissioner Emmett Owen asked how much more money the department will need for gravel.

Robbins said one load is about $500 and that is enough to do usually just one road.

Robbins suggested purchasing another $5,000 in gravel and see how far it will go. Then, he said, he would update the commissioners next month.

He has been able to borrow money from other areas in the road department’s budget to fill the need so far, and Robbins said he will do that again. However, with the budget process coming up, he wanted the commissioners to know about the problem, he said.

“It’s already way over and we’ve got July, August and September (left) in the budget year,” Robbins said.

In other business the commission members:

• Agreed to change their August meeting from Aug. 19 to Aug. 12 so they could attend the Association of County Commissions of Alabama conference the week of the Aug. 19. The commission’s Aug. 5 work session will remain as scheduled.

• Heard the county has filed the preliminary paperwork for four of the bridges it would like to replace with federal and state grant money it was awarded in May. The bridges on county roads 2, 5, 96 and 118 will be replaced with ones that can handle school bus and truck traffic, Robbins said.

• Heard that a temporary employee has started working in the finance department as the department deals with the loss of the former chief finance officer, Melissia Wood, who left for a job in Calhoun County.

• Heard that the Sheriff’s Office has ordered two new vehicles.

Committee discusses county administrator's salary

The committee created by the Cleburne County Commission to evaluate County Administrator Steve Swafford’s contract met for the first time Tuesday to discuss the dollar value of the contract.

The committee was formed at the May 20 commission meeting after commissioners Emmett Owen and Laura Cobb brought up a number of measures to limit Swafford’s authority. On April 15, the commission voted to move the finance department out from under Swafford’s oversight and bring the department directly under the commission’s control.

Both Cobb and Owen have complained about the expense of Swafford’s contract, which was approved by the former commission. Owen has called it a burden that the former commissioners put on the county.

Lisa Kemmerlin, human resources officer for the county and a member of the committee, presented a report on the contract.

Swafford’s contract ends Dec. 31, 2018, and gives him one raise beginning this October.

His annual salary this fiscal year was $134,840, she said. His new salary beginning next fiscal year will be $141,582. That makes the contract from this fiscal year through Dec. 31, 2018, worth $878,146, said Kemmerlin.

After adding in benefits including insurance, social security and medicare contributions, retirement and leave, the contract is worth just over $1.2 million, she said.

Attending the meeting were three committee members, Kemmerlin, Cobb and Owen. Mary Thompson, who works in the finance department, also attended.

Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.

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