Amendment 1 would

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 1, 2000

mean windfall for county


Managing Editor

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By bundling many issues into one amendment, the Alabama Legislature hasn’t seen much opposition to Amendment 1, a proposition that would repair and renovate many of the state’s roads and bridges and improve dock facilities for economic development.

What Amendment 1 means to Pike County, especially if passed alongside Amendment 3, is that the county could have almost $6.4 million to repair roads and bridges, said Steve Hicks, county administrator.

"That would be an enormous help to us here in Pike County," he said. "We desperately need the resources to invest in roads and bridges."

Troy Mayor Jimmy C. Lunsford says he is also behind the Amendment, and is hopeful it will pass.

"This is something that is very important to the residents of Troy and Pike County," Lunsford said. "The good things that this amendment will do for us dramatically outweigh any potential problems with the bill.

The amendment’s chief naysayer is Lt. Governor Steve Windom, who told the editorial board of The Messenger that he believes wording in the amendment opens the door for legislative misuse of oil trust fund reserves.

"The media has played this thing like it’s me versus the governor on this issue," Windom said. "It’s not that way at all. I support the projects and the ideas behind this amendment, but I think it should be postponed until we get some of the wording better and we get more specifics on the projects."

But Pike County Administrator Steve Hicks doesn’t see it that way.

"I can’t say what this will do for the state," Hicks said. "What I do know is that on the list of counties that would benefit from the plan to improve roads and bridges, Pike County is second. That means the potential for millions of dollars to repair some of our roads and bridges and we need it. This kind of work is expensive and we need the financial assistance."

Hicks said hard work by the county’s engineering office in showing a need resulted in the windfall for Pike County. Only in Mobile will more resources be dedicated, and much of that money will be spent on dock improvements, something that accompanies the bill.

Furthermore, the addition of Amendment 3 to the November ballot means that the money would come without a price for Pike County.

"The way it works is that Amendment 1 opens us up to $5,095,000," Hicks said. "That would be match money that we would have to spend a little over $1,200,000 to get. Amendment 3 provides that match money, meaning that it costs the county nothing to get almost $6.4 million."

Hicks said the county would take the funds and begin bridge work. Once those projects were completed, he said, road work would begin.

"There’s no doubt that there’s a need here in Pike County," he said.

Recognizing that need is Alabama Rep. Alan Boothe, who represents Pike County.

"He has worked hard to get this through and we appreciate his work," Hicks said.

The bill is also being endorsed by a number of high-profile people and organizations statewide, including Retirement Systems of Alabama Director Dr. David Bronner, the Alabama Sheriffs Association, the Alabama State Troopers Association, Alabama District Attorney’s Association, Alabama Police Chiefs Association, Alabama Peace Officers Association, Firefighters Association of Alabama, Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. Other endorsements have come from the Alabama University Presidents Association and the Alabama Association of County Commissions.

"A lot of people are behind this amendment," Hicks said.