By Fred Woods
Continued county funding for Lee County’s 18-month-old Spay/Neuter Program was approved, along with a more equitable formula for funding from the four Lee County government entities at the last Lee County Commission meeting.
To start the program in early 2016, Auburn, Lee County, Opelika and Smiths Station each provided $15,000.
Fourth District Commissioner Robert Ham announced that a new funding formula, based half on each jurisdiction’s share of county population and half on each jurisdiction’s share of total animal surgeries, had been agreed to by all jurisdictions. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve $28,650 for the county’s share in the FY 2019 budget. Auburn will pay $16,356; Opelika, $11,880 and Smiths Station $3,546 as their respective shares of the 2019 program.
Ham also announced that a central website for pictures and other information on Lee County’s lost and taken dogs and cats would be designed and operated by capable professional operators.
Ham hopes to bring the proposal for the above for the commission’s discussion and approval within the next 30 days.
District 1 Commissioner Shelia Eckman led a discussion about a potential citizens’ animal control task force, first discussed several meetings ago. Eckman declined to introduce a formal motion regarding such a task force, instead asking interested citizens to bring a formal proposal to the commission.
Ham also led a discussion of revisions to the county’s solid waste policy. Commissioners are in general agreement that commercial waste, both legally and illegally dumped, is a major contributor to the county’s solid waste woes. This is coupled with the fact that 13 of the county’s 15 solid waste disposal sites do not have full- time personnel to enforce current dumping rules.
The commission voted, again unanimously, to end acceptance of all commercial solid waste as of Oct. 1. Fines for illegal dumping will be increased to a maximum of $1,500 per occurrence. All 15 disposal sites will be fenced to regulate dumping hours and cameras will be installed at all sites to aid in enforcement.
Smaller, individual access gates will be installed at all sites to permit deposit of individual bags of household waste after hours.
Enforcement of solid waste disposal rules will be the responsibility of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
At present, Lee County citizens pay a $15 monthly fee, collected with their real property tax, for the right to deposit garbage at any of the county’s 15 sites. Citizens bear the burden of proof of their eligibility to deposit garbage. In addition, several contract vendors pay county fees and negotiate with county residents for waste disposal.
Residents of Auburn, Opelika and Smiths Station may not dump their trash at a county disposal site and are subject to fines for doing so. Persons who have not paid the county solid waste disposal fee may take their trash to the Salem (Waste Management) landfill, take it to the Advance disposal site in Opelika or contract with one of the county’s contract vendors.
In other action, the commission:
• Recognized county motor grader operator Bill Yarbrough for completion of a specialized ACCA training program,
• Approved commissioners’ travel expenses to Washington, DC, with other Alabama county officials, to meet with White House staff,
• Authorized federal aid agreement for a bridge replacement on Lee Road 14 over Choctafaula Creek in southwestern Lee County,
• Approved a final change order for the Beulah Senior Center to re-enforce the area under the dumpster pad,
• Approved county administrator Roger Rendleman to place an aerial photograph of current Lee County Courthouse construction in an ACCA time capsule,
• Approved county highway crews to remove from road ROW storm debris from areas affected by the July 21 tornado and
• Approved work sessions after the next three commission meetings for preparation of the FY2019 budget.