County to spend $1.5M on roads over next four years

February 3, 2009

Kristin Mamrack -


The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Monday approved a four-year plan for paving, overlay and other maintenance on county roads. 


Road Manager Ronnie Burns noted $57,214.03 of the $1.5 million road work budget has been spent, $27,580.92 is encumbered money and $500,000 has been set aside for maintenance, leaving $915,205.05. 


Repair of damage on William Roberts Road is estimated to cost $37,000; therefore, $878,205.05 will be allocated for the road plan. 


Of the total allocated, $193,205.11 will be used for roads in District 1, $158,076.91 will be spent on District 2 roads and $166,858.96 will be used for roads in District 3. 


Additionally, $193,205.11 will be used for roads in District 4 and $166,858.96 will be spent on roads in District 5. 


"I tried to do it as evenly as possible," Burns said of allocating money in districts. 


According to the road plan, in 2009, portions of the following roads will be paved: Jack Wiggins Road, Wood Road, Dowdle Road, Holly Hills Road, Countryside Subdivision, Summer Lane, Lakeover Drive West, Lakeover Drive East, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Sumter Road. 


Additionally, one mile of Taylor Thurston Road and 1.1 miles of Schlater Road will be paved. 


The road plan is subject to amendment, Burns noted. 


"I would rather we pave less roads, but pave roads better," District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks said. "I know we all want a lot of roads paved, but we all want quality roads. We''re really not going to make a big impact. We need to look at adding some money (to the road plan budget later)." 


"We may need to add additional money for maintenance," added District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith. 


The supervisors granted Burns the authority to advertise for bids on the road work; the bids will be opened March 13 and approved by the supervisors April 1. 


In other matters, the supervisors: 


n Approved an interlocal agreement for Tax Assessor/Collector Greg Andrews to continue collecting the city''s motor vehicle taxes. 


"We''re collecting $153,000," Andrews reported, noting $95,000 was paid by city schools and $35,000 was paid by the City of Columbus. "Now, the city will pay (a fee of) 2.4 percent." 


(The city schools'' ad valorem tax rate is higher than the rate of the city.) 


"We''re saving the city (money)," Board President and District 1 Supervisor Harry Sanders said, noting the city formerly paid a fee of 5.1 percent. 


n Agreed to attend a public meeting with the City Council, the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority board and other officials to discuss recreation in the city and county. (See related story on Page 3A.) 


The meeting, which will feature a public question-and-answer session, will be held Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Columbus Municipal Complex. 


"We''re better served with the (governing) bodies, as a whole, in the discussion," said Smith, responding to a suggestion by Sanders for an ad hoc recreation committee, comprised of both city and county officials, to attend the meeting. 


"These are the bodies that have got to do the heavy lifting," Brooks said, referring to the Board of Supervisors and City Council. "We need to put in our (board) minutes whether we support it or not. 


"I think it''s a tragedy to have gone on with this for so long," he continued, noting the "main" issues of discussion are a possible sportsplex, to be located near the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and a multi-purpose recreational facility, potentially to be located in a building formerly occupied by Cash Distributing. "We need to decide, as governing bodies, what''s going to be our position on recreation." 


"I think we need to have the right players there," said Sanders, noting he is against using the Cash Distributing building for a recreational facility. "I think everybody knows we need to do something about recreation. There is a real need for some soccer fields. We''ve got to look after our own needs and not depend on somebody else. I think we need to build something in the county, close to the city." 


"This is probably one of the meetingest towns in the world," said Brooks, urging officials to take steps to finally put the matter to rest. "I would not be interested in spending on a sportsplex, when we''ve got some of the most downgraded neighborhood parks." 


The CLRA is negotiating to move forward with a plan to transform the old Cash Distributing building on Highway 182 into a multipurpose recreation facility. 


If the plan is accepted, CLRA would close several recreation facilities throughout the county and consolidate many programs in the 33,000-square-foot Cash Distributing building. 


The move would not affect the CLRA''s plans to build a multipurpose sportsplex near the Tennesee-Tombigbee Waterway.