By Fred Woods

Thanks to action by the Lee County Commission this week, qualifying Lee County government retirees and their beneficiaries will receive a one-time lump sum bonus of at least $300 in October of this year. The bonus, the result of Act 2014-429 of the Alabama Legislature, provides that retired members and beneficiaries of retired members who retired before Oct. 1, 2013, and are entitled to receive a monthly benefit from the Employees Retirement System on Sept. 30, 2014, are eligible.

Those eligible retirees will receive a payment of $2 per month for each year of service or $300, whichever is greater. Qualifying beneficiaries will receive a payment of $300. The bonus payment will be separate from the monthly retirement payment.

The payment is not automatic. Lee County government has to pay for the cost of the bonuses; therefore, the commission had to approve the county’s participation. The Board of Control of the Employees’ Retirement System is required to determine the cost of the payments and to notify each agency of the increase in employer contribution rate required to pay that sum. The board’s estimate of the cost to Lee County is $51,935, which will require an addition of 0.39 percent to the county’s employer contribution rate for the period Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016.

County Administrator Roger Rendleman said the county has 73 living retirees but was uncertain as to the number of eligible beneficiaries.

Pursuant to Highway Department traffic studies, the commission also approved a 35 miles per hour speed limit for both paved and unpaved portions of a 2.3 mile stretch of Lee Road 70, in the  northwestern part of the county. Unless posted differently, the speed limit is 45 miles per hour on paved county roads and 35 miles per hour on unpaved county roads. The commission also approved 25 miles per hour speed limits for Lee Roads 706 and 922 in the Gates subdivision (south of Spring Villa) and Lee Roads 2128 through 2133 in the River Bend Heights subdivision in northeast Lee County near Lake Harding.

Both of these subdivisions are in Commissioner Robert Ham’s District  4, who observed that Shelby County had reduced speed limits in all their county subdivisions and suggested that the Lee Commission consider similar action as a safety measure.

Environmental Services Director Chris Bozeman announced that the Lee Recycling Consortium (Lee County, Auburn, Auburn University and Opelika) had received a $113,000 recycling grant award from the state. Lee County’s share, $38,680, will be used to purchase two 10-Bin trailers (to be placed at Loachapoka and the Union Station RV Campground on Alabama Highway 14 between Auburn and Loachapoka) and four fixed recycling containers.

In other action the commission:

– heard EMA Director Kathy Carson report that the county’s share of Debris Monitoring and Removal costs from the Salem/Crawford tornados was $37,000. The state paid the same and the federal government paid the major portion, almost $370,000.

– appointed Randy Causey and reappointed Jay Jones to the Lee County E911 Board.

– approved revisions to the County Employee Policy & Procedures Manual.

– approved building inspection agreements for Loachapoka and Smiths Station.

– heard Ham announce receipt of a $10,000 check from the Alabama Commission on Senior Services to be used for senior services in state Sen. Tom Whatley’s Senate District 27.

– approved a cooperative agreement with ALDOT for digital information, aerial photography and mapping.