SUMITON – District 4 County Commissioner Steven Aderholt was the guest speaker at the East Walker Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting on Tuesday, where he presented the chamber a $5,000 check from …
SUMITON – District 4 County Commissioner Steven Aderholt was the guest speaker at the East Walker Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting on Tuesday, where he presented the chamber a $5,000 check from the Walker County Commission.
The county commission was not able to come through with economic support for the chamber last year due to economic conditions, according to Aderholt.
When the commission was faced with major budget problems arising from bond debt and cost overruns, the commission cut out discretionary spending.
“Both the East Walker Chamber and the Walker County Chamber of Commerce fall under discretionary, but fortunately this year we were able to come back, with some money, and begin supporting the chambers again,” he said. “I hope this is a permanent thing and we don’t have any more lapses.”
With the passage of a lodging tax increase on Oct. 1 for the new fiscal year budget, the commission agreed to give $25,000 of the new lodging revenue to the Walker County Development Authority, the county's industrial board, as well as $20,000 to the Chamber of Commerce of Walker County and $5,000 to the East Walker Chamber of Commerce. The entities were hurt in cuts to discretionary funding, District 1 Commissioner Keith Davis said at the time.
Residents in East Walker County are very interested in the development of the exits off of U.S. Interstate 22, according to Aderholt. He didn’t have anything definite to share, but he said he was in conversations with viable people who are interested in East Walker County.
He explained that development takes time to evolve.
“You can’t announce things before it’s time, but I’m very hopeful for East Walker County,” he said.
The closing of the Gorgas Steam Plant, was discussed, as Aderholt said no one is sure what the impact will be. Many of the employees who worked there are finding jobs in other places. The sales tax from the dollars they spent here won’t affect the county a great deal because sales tax revenue coming through the county actually goes for education, according to Aderholt.
Much of the county’s revenue comes from property tax revenue.
“The downside to Gorgas closing is the ad valorem tax the county receives,” Aderholt said. Losing that one facility means a 10 percent reduction in ad valorem taxes, according to Aderholt. “That is a significant hit to a budget that relies heavily on ad valorem tax,” he said.
It will take a few years before it takes effect because these taxes are paid in arrears, he said.
The county must manage what money it has efficiently, in both good times a bad, according to Aderholt.
District 4 is responsible for maintaining 279 miles of roads in East Walker County. The district has between $150,000 - $200,000 a year after equipment and payroll that can be used to pave roads, Aderholt said. Currently, the cost of paving a mile of road is about $100,000.
“I can pave about 2 miles of road a year,” he said. The reduction in revenue is due to inflation, and the loss of coal tax revenue.
“We have to maintain and do the best that we can,” he said.
One nagging problem for the district is litter. “We do the best we can do with the few people we have,” Aderholt said.
He indicated the previoius sheriff would not permit any work release inmates to work with the road commissioner to pick up litter. The new sheriff, Nick Smith, is more is open to utilizing inmates on litter detail, according to Aderholt.
“Right now, we have four inmates, a deputy, and my people out there picking up a mess that was created last (Monday) night,” Aderholt said, adding the new sheriff is proactive and is working to put together a litter crew to help keep the roadways clean of litter.
In other action, the chamber:
• Heard Clay Grice report plans for the May 31 East Walker Chamber Golf Tournament have been finalized. Teams will tee off at Horse Creek Golf Course at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $35 per player and $140 per team of four golfers. The fee includes range balls and lunch, he said. “We’re not making money off of players,” Grice said, noting the major fundraising will come from sponsorships, which are $100 each. “We need as many sponsors as we can possibly get.”
Grice expects that with the low entry cost that they will max out on golfers. This will give a lot of exposure to the sponsors of the event, he said.
Those who would like to compete in the tournament should provide their names, phone number, and who is going to be on their team. Golfers can pay the day of the tournament or mail their check to the East Walker Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 188, Sumiton AL 35148. An entry form is on the website at www.eastwalkerchamber.com. Anyone wanting to ask questions may all Grice at 205-522-6647.