By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Commissioners Court met in a called meeting on Thursday, May 21 to discuss an infrastructure grant.
The meeting was called to order shortly after 11 am and once again the court session was held via the internet.
The first item considered by the commissioners was a discussion on applying for a 2020 County Transportation Infrastructure Fund (CTIF 2020) grant and authorizing a necessary 20 percent match, as well as the corresponding budget amendments.
Houston County Auditor Melissa Jeter provided background information to explain what the grant was about.
“Back in 2014 through 2016, we received the CETRZ grant. The county received about $800,000. It was all about oil trucks that damaged the county roads. This is a continuation of that program. It is not as much, but that’s where it stems from,” she said.
Jeter explained the county was approved for $243,000 but added as of September 2019, Houston County was no longer considered to “economically disadvantaged.”
She added that no reason was given for the change in status, but because of it “… this just cost the county $25,000. We’re not going to turn it down. It is a cash match of 20 percent. To apply for the $243,000, it is a commitment of $48,000. Plus, there is a retainer fee of $12,000, which is the next agenda item.”
The county auditor further explained the $48,000 would be split between Precinct 2 and Precinct 4.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Willie Kitchen replied, “There is something I read which said matching funds could be spent on other roads damaged by oil and gas (transport). We have been 10 percent (as opposed to 20 percent match) forever. This loss of classification will cost us quite a bit of money down the road. I would like to see the data where Houston County improved economically so much in 2019. I don’t see it. Locally, we can’t see that. Where did the state get this information?”
County Judge Jim Lovell who was out of town but attended the meeting remotely said he would look into it to see what caused the county to no longer be economically disadvantaged.
As the discussion continued, Jeter explained the county was under a Tuesday, May 26 deadline to apply for the grant, which necessitated the special meeting.
A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to move forward on the grant application. The court also approved an agreement with the law firm of Allison, Bass and Magee LLP to prepare and administer the CTIF 2020 grant for Houston County.
With no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 11:15 am.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.