Elberta Mayor Jim Hamby visited the Nov. 27 Baldwin County Commission work session asking once again for monetary assistance from the county for paving County Road 83.
Hamby said the road had been problematic and needed repairs even when the town of Elberta took it over from the county in 2000, when current Baldwin County Commissioner Skip Gruber was then mayor of Elberta.
“We’re battling to clean up something here that we inherited,” Hamby said. “We ask for any help you can give us on that.”
Hamby said the town had already been proactive on trying to find ways to help funded the needed road projects, including receiving a grant/loan package from the federal government and a six-fugue grant from the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Earlier this year, the town received a grant of $50,000 and loan of $579,000 from the USDA’s Office of Rural Development, which will be used to complete road resurfacing on a sizable portion of the road.
The town was awarded an additional $322,000 by the office in Nov. 2017 for storm drainage improvements in the same area.
Hamby asked the commission for a possible lump sum of $320,000, which he said would go a long way to helping the town complete the project.
“That would help us do 9,000 lineal feet of the road, which would include the milling, patching, repaving and striping,” Hamby said.
Hamby said if the commission were to help with the project, he promised the town would not be back in the future asking for more money.
“This is the only project we have that qualifies for county help,” Hamby said. “Once we do this project, it’ll be at least 15 years before it needs to be done again. This is kind of a one-trick pony for Elberta.”
Several of the commissioners were receptive to Hamby’s message.
“Towns are very limited in funds, and I think that with the county roads that run through their municipalities, we should lend some aide even if they’ve accepted maintenance of those roads,” Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood said. “I don’t know the amount or how we would do that, but I would be supportive of lending some kind of assistance.”
Commissioner Joe Davis commended Hamby and the town for trying to find alternate ways to pay for the project, and said he was open to the idea of looking at ways to help.
“I like to look under rocks to try to find other resources, and I want to commend you for trying to find ways to do this,” Davis said. “I’m not concerned about the precedent setting.”
Commission Chairman Skip Gruber, who is a former mayor of Elberta, had reservations about the county giving money for the project.
“That is a lot of money,” Gruber said. “This commission has to decide where that money could come from. Everything you take from the county to put in the municipalities takes away from other roads this county does have jurisdiction over. It’s not that I’m not trying to help, but we have to look out for county citizens just like municipalities do theirs.”
The commissioners could make the appropriation at an upcoming meeting in the form of a budget amendment.