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This map reflects Coosa County’s new district lines as presented to the County Commission and approved during its March 14 meeting.
By Christa Jennings
Senior Staff Writer
The County Commission is having a three-part meeting this month, as its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on March 14 has not yet been adjourned.
The primary reason for the ongoing meeting is the waste disposal bid process and continuing discussion, with the matter ultimately being put out for bid a third time.
As the meeting came to a close on March 14, rather than adjourn the commission voted to recess until 10 a.m. March 20. That second portion of the meeting then also concluded with the commission voting to once again recess rather an adjourn, this time planning to reconvene at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 29.
As such, full coverage of the complete meeting will not be available until next week once the meeting has officially concluded.
Of the two parts of the meeting held thus far, Commissioner Brandon Davis was absent from both the March 14 and 20 meetings, and Commissioner John Forbus was absent from the March 14 meeting.
After having received no bids for the county’s waste disposal contract the first time, the county voted to rebid it. During the March 14 portion of the meeting, the commission was to open and review bids received from that second time of bidding it out.
At that time it was reported that only one bid had been received, and that was from ADSI, or Arrow Disposal Service Inc. That “bid” reflected a start date of July 1, which Gentry Shows, with the marketing division of ADSI, said was because the company would need to buy two new trucks to service Coosa County.
A resident of Coosa County himself, Shows expressed that he and the company would like to be able to start service sooner. However, with the need to purchase additional trucks, he said that unfortunately they would not be able to start sooner because of needing to wait to receive the trucks.
During initial discussion, county attorney John K. Johnson said there was some deviation between what ADSI submitted and what the county had included in its bid specifications. He recommended that the commission recess the meeting rather than adjourn in order to review and discuss the matter and see if the county and company could come to an agreement.
Johnson added that the county had 30 days to accept the bid from ADSI or rebid the matter if it so chose.
During further discussion regarding rates, County Administrator Amy Gilliland said that she had spoken with nine waste disposal companies and that all of they said they would have to increase their rates.
After voting previously not to renew its contract with GFL, the county may find itself in a predicament relating to garbage pickup. GFL’s contract expires at the end of the month, meaning that unless the county enters into a new contract with service starting almost immediately, county residents will no longer have residential garbage pickup as of April 1.
During discussion, Shows suggested that the county look into renting roll-off dumpsters for residents to use to bring and dump their household garbage in the interim.
In ongoing discussion between both the March 14 and March 20 meetings, the commission mentioned considering various locations throughout the county where roll-off dumpsters could be placed for that purpose if needed.
However, during the reconvened meeting Monday, the commission further discussed the matter, with attorney Johnson stating that he had realized after the previous meeting that what ADSI had submitted was actually a proposal rather than an official bid.
Shows; who was present for that meeting, as well; explained that the company did not submit a bid the first time because of the county’s required April 1 start date, which ADSI would not be able to meet. However, when it came up for bid a second time, he said he talked to his bosses and that they then provided a proposal, which he said they wanted to submit to show what they could offer.
The company did not submit an actual bid because it would not meet all of the requirements or specifications the county had included in the bid packet. The commission, attorney Johnson and Shows all reviewed the company’s proposal and the variances between the proposal and the county’s bid specifications.
In ongoing discussion, Johnson stated that the matter had to be done through competitive bid and that a proposal does not meet the requirements of the law. He added that he was “very appreciative that ADSI saw fit to even submit a proposal,” but said that it has to be a bid.
With that in mind, commissioners Lamar Daugherty and Ronnie Joiner both voiced that they would like to rebid the matter.
Shows said that if the commission did vote to put the contract out for bid a third time then ADSI would submit an official bid for consideration, with any discrepancies noted in the bid.
During further discussion and review, the commission stated that it would like to remove paragraph 28 on page 14 of the waste disposal contract before it is sent back out for bid. That paragraph relates to the county holding a public hearing concerning the agreement.
Aside from removing that paragraph, the commission stated it would like to leave everything else the same, including the commencement date of April 1, in the hopes that a company who can start providing service sooner may bid on the contract.
After much discussion, during the March 20 meeting the commission unanimously approved rebidding the waste disposal contract, with bids to be opened when the commission reconvenes Wednesday.
With no bid approved and the county having not yet entered into a contract with anyone, since a start date for service is now unknown, rather than discuss the potential locations for the large commercial-size waste containers, Administrator Gilliland asked that the commissioners be thinking about that possibility and locations where they might like those placed. This will be addressed during the reconvened meeting if needed, based on the commencement date of any approved bid.
Also during Monday’s reconvened meeting, the commission unanimously approved tabling the discussion of the cost of basement renovations to be done in the Extension building. This was tabled until the commission’s April 11 meeting to give commissioners time to review the scope of work to be completed.
During the March 14 meeting, the commission unanimously approved for Chair Bertha K. McElrath to sign the county’s Redistricting Resolution.
The commission previously reviewed a map of the proposed new district lines and voted during its February 14 meeting to alter the district boundaries in accordance with the 2020 Census. The proposed map was displayed in the Commission Courtroom of the County Courthouse for the public to view.
The commission then approved the new districts during the March 14 meeting with the adoption of the resolution.
Also during the March 14 meeting, the commission unanimously approved the tag issuance fee bill as written, with some corrections made from the original, and to have the bill introduced in the 2023 regular session of the Alabama Legislature.
The commission further unanimously approved publishing the bill once a week for four consecutive weeks in the local newspaper, with the ad running beginning March 17.
The primary difference between the bill as worded and what the commission had previously discussed is that the fee would not apply to vessel or boat tags. Attorney Johnson stated that as worded the bill does not include boat tags.
During discussion, Gilliland stated that upon review the county does not receive a significant amount of money from vessel tags and that individuals do not have to purchase boat tags in Coosa County, as they can purchase those elsewhere. Johnson said that if it is not significant and if the county is “OK with that” then it would be “good to go.”
With the commission approving the bill, it will now go to the state legislature for review. Based upon that process, the bill will ultimately be placed on the ballot during an upcoming election for Coosa County residents to vote on whether to approve the tag issuance fee of $15 per tag, with the funds earmarked for the county-wide ambulance and Coosa County EMS.
During the March 14 meeting, the commission also heard from Dennis Hill regarding the closure of the Coosa County Animal Shelter. At that time Hill reported that Big Dog Ranch Rescue in Shorter had agreed to take all of the shelter’s animals and that they should be animal-free by the end of that week.
He stated that at that time the shelter would be fully closed and that they would write a $30,000 check back to the county for the American Rescue Plan Act funds that had been donated.
Hill further reviewed some information previously reported regarding the shelter’s efforts and its closure. District 4 Commissioner Ronnie Joiner stated that he did not think they gave the shelter enough time, stating that it would have eased off after the initial influx.
However, Joiner also stated, “We made an honest effort, and it didn’t work.”
In other business, during the March 14 meeting the commission:
- Unanimously approved for a county employee to be able to request donated leave time because of an illness.
- Unanimously approved removing a gas stove in the West Coosa Senior Center from inventory and selling it, with the funds going back into the senior center’s fund.
- Unanimously approved for Chair McElrath to sign the resolution for $16,835 of ARPA funds being allocated as matching funds for an Alabama Department of Transportation grant that will provide transportation for elderly and disabled members of the county, specifically for the van for Peace & Goodwill.
- Unanimously approved Monica Thomas for the District 2 appointment on the Department of Human Resources Board to replace Margaret Whetstone.
- Unanimously approved tabling the matter of closing Kerry Lane in Goodwater until the next regularly scheduled meeting, which will be April 11.
Also during the meeting, Gilliland reminded everyone about the importance of county employees participating in the annual wellness checkup. She said that they will lose their insurance discounts if there is not enough participation.
Regarding the ambulance service, EMS Director Hollie Osbourn stated that they are in the process of ordering supplies to stock the ambulance. She said the tentative operational date will be May 1, if not before.
The County Commission meeting is recessed until 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 29. Following that reconvened meeting to finish this month’s meeting, its next regularly scheduled monthly meeting will be held at 9 a.m. April 11.