Funds prompt questions by PCC

Published 6:31 am Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For many months, the Pike County Commission has been telling the public there’s no money to be found in its coffer.

On Monday night, Commissioner Ray Goodson unfolded a piece of paper that revealed that “after expenses” the county has $355,000.

Goodson said Chief Financial Officer Deborah Gibson provided him with the information.

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“The money is there and we’ve got the money to pave the Pleasant Hill Church Road,” Goodson said. “The church members have been asking for that road to be paved for years. When it rains, they can’t even get to the church cemetery to put away their loved ones. They have to cancel their services. They’ve even had to cancel a Christmas service.”

Commissioner Charlie Harris questioned the dollar figures Goodson quoted.

“Where’d the money come from?” he asked. “We didn’t have money and all of sudden here it is. This has opened a sack of worms. Something ain’t right.”

Harris said he was on a committee with Commissioners Jimmy Barron and Oren Fannin and they were looking for funds and met with the CFO.

“The money wasn’t there,” he said. “Three people couldn’t find the money and one person goes in there and finds $300,000? I don’t like being lied to.  I’m tired of being lied to. If the money was there, we should have known it.  Somebody should lose their job for lying to the Commission.”

Barron agreed with Harris that the committee was told there was no money to purchase equipment for the county road department.

County Administrator Harry Sanders said the CFO was out of the office due to the death of her father and was, therefore, unavailable to discuss finances with the commissioners. Commission Chairman Homer Wright suggested that a meeting be set up to see how much money is actually available.

Arlisa Johnson, a longtime member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, was the spokesman for the church members who attended the meeting.

“We have fought and we had struggled to get the road to this 151-year-old church paved,” she said.

“It’s a crying shame that we can’t get to this historic gravesite without slipping in the ditch. We are taxpayers, too. But we keep getting passed to the side when other roads with only two or three people living on them are getting paved.”

Johnson said the road to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is used every Sunday.

“And, sometimes we can’t even get down the road to worship God,” she said.

“And, all that gravel that’s been put on the road is doing is tearing people’s cars.

“Get the figures and do the right thing. We are tired of being nice.”

Harris told the representatives of Pleasant Hill Church that there’s a law that dictates what the Commission can do.

“We’re going to have to wait and see what we can do,” he said.

Barron told the church representatives that there is priority to paving roads.

“We have to maintain the county’s road to keep them safe for the county as a whole,” he said.

“We have to keep the roads safe and that means keeping up the equipment needed to do the job.”

Harris said if the money is there, he will vote to do both, pave the Pleasant Hill Road and buy equipment for the road department. If there’s money to do only one thing, he will “vote to pave the road.”

Goodson made a motion to pave the Pleasant Hill Church road but the motion died for lack of a second.

The Commission elected Homer Wright to serve a second term as chairman and Robin Sullivan was elected vice chairman.

The Commission will not make a decision on paving the Pleasant Hill Church road or on County Engineer Russell Oliver’s request for funding for the road department until after the commissioners meet with the county’s CFO.

Those issues will be taken up at the Nov. 28 meeting.