Commission seeks answers

Published 8:07 am Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Pike County Commission will meet Monday night and continue to seek answers to the question raised at the commission’s Nov. 14 meeting.

Commissioner Ray Goodson presented information to the Commission that revealed that, after expenses, the county has $355,000 in its coffer.

Goodson said that money should be used to pave the Pleasant Hill Church road to make it accessible to the church members during rainy weather.

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Commissioner Charlie Harris questioned the source of the money.

“We (the county) didn’t have any money and all of sudden, we’ve got money,” he said. “Where did it come from?”

Goodson said the dollar figures were given to him by the county’s chief financial officer, Deborah Gibson, who was out of town due to a death in the family and not at the meeting.

The financial matter will be a major topic on the Commission’s agenda Monday night.

Harry Sanders, Pike County administrator, said the $355,000 in question was not money lost or found; it was in reserve.

“At one time, the county had a lot of debt,” Sanders said. “In 2005, the deficit was a million dollars and we have been aggressive in working it down until we were able to have money in reserve.”

Sanders said the reserve funds were discussed during budget hearings.

The $355,000 in reserve funds is in three accounts – the general fund, the road and bridge fund and the gas tax fund – with most of the money in the road and bridge fund, which is a restrictive account and the funds can only be spent for road and bridge projects or needs.

The membership of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church has made several requests to the Commission for the paving of the road that leads to the historic church and cemetery but has been told repeatedly that no money is available.

Russell Oliver, county engineer, said the estimated cost of paving nearly one mile of roadway would be $150,000.

Oliver made a request to the Commission on Nov. 14 for funds to purchase “much needed” equipment for the road and bridge department. The request was for $170,000.

The Commission did not make a decision on paving the Pleasant Hill Church road or on Oliver’s request for funding for the road department at the Nov. 14 meeting. However, the commission could have an opportunity to do so Monday night.

Sanders said those decisions will be up to the commissioners and according to what their priorities are.

The Pike County Commission meets at 6 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at the Pike County Health Department on Franklin Drive. The meetings are open to the public.