Hello, fellow sifters.
I know it’s been a while, but I’m back, and I plan to provide more frequent updates on what’s happening in Montgomery. So stay tuned!
I’ve put together a (sort of) brief update on the status of projects and issues the Montgomery County Commission has been working on. I’ve written about all these topics fairly recently, so refer back to our archives if you need some more information.
Youth Facility improvements: The commission has been discussing how it will fund $8.2 million in renovations needed at the Montgomery County Youth Facility. Last year, the county hired architects Seay Seay & Litchfield to prioritize the renovations and manage the project. The county also entered into a preliminary contract with Schneider Electric, an energy solutions company that conducted an energy efficiency study. The commission has the study, and has to decide whether to let the company work on the electrical, mechanical and plumbing upgrades using $1.1 million in federal energy conservation bonds that were allocated to the county in December 2011 by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. The county would bond the rest of the project, but the company will guarantee that the energy savings will pay for the cost of the project over time.
However, Seay Seay & Litchfield told the commission they can do the work on the facility at a lower cost than Schneider. The county has to decide whether to allow Schneider to move forward, or lose the $30,000 it already paid Schneider for the study and let the architectural firm do the work. The commission will see a presentation from both companies at future meetings and then make a decision.
The commission also asked the Alabama Department of Youth Services for $3 million in funding available through the Alabama Public School and College Authority. The executive director of the state agency asked the state’s finance department to release the money. The county is waiting to find out whether they received the funding.
The county also plans to use money received by refinancing the county’s bonds for the project.
South probate office: Earlier this month, the County Commission unanimously renewed its two-year lease with Capitol Plaza Associates for the south probate office for $1,869.57 per month, or about $22,434.84 per year, plus fees for the common area maintenance. The lease can be terminated with written notice three months before vacating.
The commission also tentatively agreed to consider leasing an unspecified amount of space in the main portion of the Montgomery Mall from Blue Ridge Capital. The commission is meeting with Probate Judge Steven Reed during the information session at 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 4 to discuss moving the south office to the Montgomery Mall.
Election center director: The Montgomery County Commission has not yet taken action to move forward with hiring a director of elections, a position that has been vacant since Justin Aday left at the end of November. The commission has twice denied motions to approve starting the process. Commissioners have said they wanted to wait until Probate Judge Steven Reed was sworn into office. The director of elections reports directly to the probate judge.
However, it’s been several weeks since Reed was sworn in, and the county still hasn’t taken action. Before the City-County Personnel Department can move forward with advertising the opening, the commission has to approve filling the position.
The position requires candidates to have a master’s of business of public administration or a J.D. and four years of experience administering and conducting public elections, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, according to the job description. The starting salary is $58,610.
Changing the annual leave policy: In December, Deputy Sheriff Derrick Cunningham proposed the commission change the county’s annual leave policy so employees who don’t have an opportunity to take leave (also known as their vacation time) beyond what they’re allowed to carry over from year to year will be compensated for it. Under the current policy, employees are only allowed to carry over a certain number of hours based on their years of service. The new policy would allow employees who reach 40 hours or more over the maximum annual leave can be given the option of being paid for those hours, subject to approval. The employee would have to give one month notice of his or her intent to take advantage.
The change, however, would have a serious impact on the county’s annual budget because the policy would apply to all county employees.
According to a report requested by the County Commission, 28 employees who work for the sheriff’s office lost a total of 648.65 hours in 2012.
The commission will be discussing the policy at a future meeting.