Traffic Signals and Library Funding Issues At Houston County Commission MeetingRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jul 19 2012 9:37 PM
HOUSTON COUNTY: Members of the Houston County Commision met today for their Administrative Meeting. This was the first meeting of the commission with the new District 4 Commissioner Melinda McClendon.
Several items were on the agenda. One was the $ 1 million dollar obligation the Commissioners intend to address on Monday. The one million dollar obligation is in donating to TWO (2) new Libraries for the City of Dothan. Plans are to contruct a 22,000 square foot facility at the current North Oates location. The second location will be on Westgate Parkway.
The one million dollar donation comes in some $ 400,000.00 worth of "in kind" services of work being performed on the sites. The other will be monetary donations over several years. Those details have not been provided. The Houston County Commission is not real good about providing the supporting documentation with the items on the agenda prior to their Monday meeting.
The donations come at a time when departments are being told they must cut 3% from their 2012 - 2013 operating budgets. The donation comes at a time when the Houston County Sheriff Department is in bad need of new patrol cars and additional personnel.
The Houston County Commission will move forward to Monday's agenda a final decison on a tabled matter. That issue is assisting the Town of Cowarts in the funding of traffic signals on Highway 84 East and Forrester Road at the old ACE Hardware. At the request of the Town of Cowarts the State of Alabama has declared the intersection to meet the specifications for traffic signals.
The State of Alabama reports the cost of traffic light installation at some $ 183,000.00. The State of Alabama will fund 50% and has asked the Town of Cowarts to fund 50%. This request has caused some discussion on the commissioner.
Naturally Commissioner Doug Sinquefield is supportive of this issue because it is in his district. Commissioner Jackie Battles has questioned the approval of the request. Commissioner Battles complimented the Cowarts Mayor for their financial management of funds, the mangement being without their collection of the 5 mills of property tax they are authorized to collect. However Commissoner Battles questioned when Houston County has asked all departments to present budgets with a 3% cut, with Cowarts being a large community in the county with a good tax base, and being the largest community in the county without their own police department.
Commissioner Battles said Houston County Sheriff Department has to handle all law enforcement needs in Cowarts. The Sheriff is in need of extra deputies and replacement cars for high mileage patrol vehicles. Is the need of the Sheriff more important to make sure the deputies have adequate manpower and transportation to meet the law enforcement needs in the Cowarts area? In addition the Houston County Road and Bridge Department handles most of the road issues in the Cowarts area.
Commissioner Battles wanted it clear - he DOES support Cowarts. However he questioned the expenditure with the cuts and needs of what the Houston County Commission is already responsible for.
There has been some community discussion about the traffic lives saving injuries and lives or causing more injuries and lives. The intersection is at the bottom of east and west bound traffic that is on a decline as they approach the intersection. With all of the heavy truck traffic the question is will it be more dangerous for travelers or safer.
The issue will be voted on this coming Monday at 10 AM.