To pave or not to pave? That is the question that was danced around by County Engineer Mike Fletcher and County Manager Joe Pritchard, with interest, at yesterday morning’s Lowndes County Commission Work Session, on agenda item 8.d. Georgia Department of Transportation Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant.
County Engineer Mike Fletcher said Lowndes County was receiving from GDOT a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) of $746,984.75 for FY “two thirteen”. Because T-SPLOST didn’t pass, the county has to come up with a 30% match, which is $224,095.43. He said there was a work sheet and project list in the board packet (which the rest of us don’t get to see).
County Manager Joe Pritchard said with change from LARP (Local Assistance Road Projects, primarily for resurfacing) to LMIG the county could now use these funds for any purpose, and had planned to use LMIG for construction and paving. Pritchard said some of the Commissioners had expressed concern about using these LMIG funds for resurfacing instead of paving, although it wasn’t clear from what he said which way they were concerned about it. As part of the match he intends to use in-kind services, apparently crews and equipment for construction work, by which he seemed to mean construction and paving. He’s also looked into borrowing the matching funds, but that would involve “significant interest rates”.
Finance Director Stephanie Black said they did check on borrowing the money, but she said they didn’t check on the interest rates, so it wasn’t clear why they couldn’t borrow the money.
Pritchard said the board had approved a tax anticipation note, and “the financial institution” had approved it, but they had not “utilized” that. It’s not clear how that was related, either.
Fletcher said the county has to submit a project list, and GDOT recommends putting on more lists than you can fund so you can cut some off the end. He didn’t mean that an overlong project list means less oversight of Engineering by the Commission, because the County Engineer can pick and choose from that list.
Is your road on that project list? You can file an open records request and wait two years or more for the county to maybe get around to letting you know.
Acceptance or handling of grant money continues to be a mystery to viewers. None of the commissioners commented on the acceptance of this state funding when previously some have expressed opposition to federal funds.
Anyway, it sounds like the county wants to use paving roads as their matching in-kind services for LMIG. But what they want to do was made very unclear by County Manager Pritchard. Perhaps Commissioners (or someone) could ask him to explain what he meant.
Here’s the video.
Work Session, Lowndes County Commission (LCC),
Video by Gretchen Quarterman for Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE),
Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 December 2012.