Sanders: County finances improving

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 5, 2016

Pike County Administrator Harry Sanders told the Brundidge Rotarians Wednesday that Pike County is in much better financial condition than it was nearly 10 years ago when he came on board.

“We’re in better financial condition but it’s not good enough,” Sanders said. “The county has the responsibility for our roads and bridges. And, not many people know or realize that we have the responsibility of a number of buildings – the Pike County Board of Education building, the courthouse and jail, the health department and the Extension office. If an air conditioner tears up, it has to be fixed.”

The rains in December caused flooding throughout the county and, as a result, 30 roads were closed.

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But the county was able to handle the situation better than it would have been 10 years ago.

“When I came here, the county was $3 million in the hole,” he said. “But we have been able to reduce the debt by 60 percent so we are in better financial shape.”

2-4-ROTARY-PICwebSanders said the restructuring of the county’s 1-cent sales tax has helped the country keep its head above water. However, the responsibly the county has for 700 miles of roads is a constant juggling act.

Russell Oliver, Pike County engineer, told the Rotarians that 300 miles of the county’s 700 roads are dirt roads.

“We have 167 bridges in the county and 60 of them are posted and restricted in some way – to log trucks, school buses, lots of ways” he said. “Thirty-four of the bridges are obsolete or structurally inefficient.”

Oliver said the county has benefited greatly from $12 million in ATRIP funding and that was a blessing.

“With that funding, we were able to pave 48 miles of roads and repair three bridges,” Oliver said. “That’s an indication of the cost of road repair.”

According to a study by the Association of County Engineers of Alabama and the Alabama Department of Transportation, Pike County should be expending $5.2 million a year to resurface is 412-mile paved road network on a 15-year cycle.

An additional $1.9 million annual expenditure is needed to replace and rehabilitate the 163 county-owned bridge structures on a 50-year cycle.

The combined annual investment needed in Pike County to preserve and improve the existing paved roads and bridge structures is $7.1 million.

That’s why Sanders said, the county’s financial condition, while better, is still not good enough.