State Sen. Gerald Dial and Ranburne Mayor Owen Lowery attended the commission’s work session to discuss the details of the deal, which Dial said he had worked out with the Alabama Department of Transportation.
In 2013, Ranburne officials applied for a grant from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs to pay for improvements to Georgia Avenue and some of its connecting streets within the town limits. But Ranburne was passed over. It’s the second time Ranburne had applied for the grant and the second time it wasn’t awarded the money.
But at Monday’s work session, Dial said he had met with ALDOT officials and hammered out a deal to get the work on Georgia Avenue done all the way to the Georgia state line.
ALDOT’s director wants a joint commitment from Ranburne and from Cleburne County before he will agree to the project, which is estimated to cost $450,000, Dial said.
He asked the commissioners to commit $50,000 toward the project. The Ranburne Council already agreed to allocate $65,000 for the road work during the grant application process, said Mayor Owen Lowery. The council could raise that allocation to $75,000, Lowery said. ALDOT would do the engineering, an estimated $25,000 for the project, Dial said. The department’s already planning a project on Alabama 46 and could combine the two projects, he said.
“It’s kind of like a blue-light special from Kmart,” Dial said. “We get about a $550,000 road for $75,000 from Ranburne and $50,000 from the county.”
Shannon Robbins, Cleburne County Engineer, said the road would extend into the county about 3,400 feet. But Dial said the road can be used by everyone in the county whether they live in Ranburne or not.
“Roads belong to everyone,” Dial said. “The gasoline tax belongs to everyone.”
Lowery said the work would be “a shot in the arm” for Ranburne. The town has a daycare on the road, and other businesses use the road.
“That’s a lot of money to let slide under the table,” Lowery said. “Our whole town is beginning to hurt, and we need the help.”
County Administrator Steve Swafford said the commissioners would first have to approve the project as a priority and then he could work with the road department to figure out how to pay for it.
Swafford suggested that the commission provide the $50,000 from the county’s gasoline tax revenue.
“If we have a problem throughout the year, we could relook at the situation then,” he said.
The commissioners agreed to put the project on their agenda for the Feb. 18 meeting.
In other business, the commissioners:
— Heard that the proposed county ad valorem millage rate is the same as last year’s rate at 30.5 mills.
— Heard that Donald Morrison of Prosper US Inc. at 4304 Cleburne County Road in Delta is requesting a liquor license. Probate Judge Ryan Robertson, who serves as chairman of the commission, said he owns the property and would have to be removed from the question.
— Heard from Swafford that some of the logging companies have been damaging county roads.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.