Now not time for commission to act

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 10, 2017

At the last meeting of the Pike County Commission, the commission had to decide whether to pass a resolution in support of a three-cent gas tax proposed by the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA).

It would have been easy for the commission to pass the resolution. After all, they don’t have a say about what happens in the state legislature. At least 10 other county commissions in the state have given support of the resolution already.

The pitch given to the commission was to support the tax and then bring the public in to discuss which roads they would want prioritized if the legislation passed.

The commission ultimately decided, however, not to sign the county’s support onto the new plan just yet. The commission brought up concerns about the numbers that were being given with the plan, as they said Pike County would likely see much less road improvement than the plan suggests.

Two commissioners, Russell Johnson and Chad Copeland, called the plan “putting a Band-Aid on a long-term problem.”

The plan has gotten mixed reviews across the state and the citizens of Pike County very well may be mostly in support of the plan, which would cost the average citizen under $1.50 per month and contribute $10 million of funding to the consistently underfunded Pike County Road Department.

But the commission could not possibly know the stance of their constituents at the time the resolution was pitched to them, and they are elected to be the voice of the people. Passing a resolution in support of a piece of state legislation effectively shows that the people of Pike County support the bill.

In Pike County, that simply hasn’t been proven to be the case yet. And while the commissioners said they want to hear what their constituents have to say about the bill, the commission may not get enough feedback in time to take any action.

And they really don’t need to.

Unless the people of this county overwhelmingly respond and tell the commission that this proposal is something that we want, the best route for the commission to take is to simply let the State legislature play it out.

As Chairman Robin Sullivan said, “We’ll certainly put the money to good use if we get it.”

It’s up to the people of Pike County to reach out to their representatives in Montgomery to tell them what they want when it comes to this state issue.

If the bill passes, that’s when it will be time for the Pike County Commission to act. That’s when they should ask the public what roads they want to prioritize.

Until then, it is – and should be – out of their hands.

Jacob Holmes covers city and county government for The Messenger. Contact him at jacob.holmes@troymessenger.com.