Corte Road causes complications

Daphne mayor, county commission at odds about how money is spent on area projects

By Cliff McCollum
Posted 5/3/17

A recent request from the city of Daphne to the Baldwin County Commission involving Corte Road has both Mayor Dane Haygood and commission members engaged in a war of words.

During Monday’s …

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Corte Road causes complications

Daphne mayor, county commission at odds about how money is spent on area projects

Posted

A recent request from the city of Daphne to the Baldwin County Commission involving Corte Road has both Mayor Dane Haygood and commission members engaged in a war of words.

During Monday’s Daphne City Council meeting, Haygood discussed the project and thanked the commission for its agreement to help prepare the roadbed, right of way acquisition and the eventual transfer of the road to the city, but then took aim at the commission’s denial of his request for $200,000 to assist with the project.

“They were not so generous in matching our requested financial contribution,” Haygood said. “We asked the county commission for $200,000 and they denied the request.”

Daphne is looking to create an additional east-west road connecting County Road 13 and Highway 181 because of current and future traffic concerns in the area, looking to Corte Road as a possible fix.

Haygood said the city of Daphne generates considerable revenue for the county’s road and bridge fund, and questioned why it couldn’t be spent on projects like the one on Corte Road.

“We have a fundamental flaw here,” Haygood said. “Daphne will generate $867,000 to go to the road and bridge fund, and none of those dollars will be spent back here in Daphne. We’re not seeing a direct return on that.”

Haygood asked voters in Daphne to be aware of upcoming county elections.

“I hope our constituents understand they are voters in the county elections as well and that they will remember this at election time,” Haygood said.

The commissioners all felt Haygood’s comments were somewhat out of line, though Commissioner Frank Burt said they weren’t out of character.

“I’m not surprised,” Burt said. “He’s got a big mouth and is not a very engineering minded individual. If he was, he would have started this project a long time ago. All of this is an effort to incorporate a 900-lot subdivision into the city of Daphne and get them more revenue.”

Commissioner Skip Gruber said the county tries to help municipalities as best as they can, but that the road and bridge fund was meant to maintain the parts under the county’s jurisdiction.

“The money that is collected by the county through ad valorem is supposed to be spent on county maintained roads,” Gruber said. “Cities get their own portions of that, and it’s disheartening to hear one of our cities is downgrading the commission for the projects. There are numerous projects that we’ve done that lead into the cities, like the roundabout on County Road 64, as well as putting money into the Metropolitan Planning Organization that several municipalities use and take advantage of.”

Commissioner Tucker Dorsey reiterated that several county projects benefitted municipalities like Daphne, including $180,000 funding for a traffic light adaptation study across the Eastern Shore.

“We have to continue to work as a group,” Dorsey said. “The mayor is under pressure because he is late to get this approved with the expansion of 181. We’ve got to hold together to solve major problems, or we’re going to be in a bad spot. We have to work together.”

Commission Chairman Chris Elliott said that while Haygood’s comments might have upset them, that anger did not extend to the people of Daphne.

“I think that while the mayor may have drawn the ire of this commission with his comments, the residents of Daphne have not,” Elliott said.

Elliott said he found the mayor’s comments misguided.

“I find the mayor’s comments regrettable about county funds not being spent within Daphne and other municipalities,” Elliott said. “This body is charged with maintaining county roads that lead to many of these municipalities, and we make sure those roads are well maintained.”

Elliott said the biggest problem with Haygood’s $200,000 request was a simple one.

“One of the main issues I had with the city’s request was it is not budgeted in this calendar year,” Elliott said. “We assured Mayor Haygood we would give it due consideration in our budget hearings that will start soon. I would think that the city’s request would have been favorably considered during those budget hearings, though I’m not sure that will be the case now.”