Lee considers road funding

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Lee County's Planning and Engineering director recommended Tuesday that the County Commission forego street resurfacing this year and instead spend expected funds on drainage and grading for the Westover Road Extension and Flowing Well Road Improvement projects.

Bob Alexander told commissioners during their August work session that the county's Local Maintenance Improvement Grant money, provided through the Department of Transportation, could be better spent on the Westover and Flowing Well projects.

"We would have about $190,000 for the Westover project and $126,000 for Flowing Well," Alexander said. "Since we're limited in sales tax funding this year, I think using our LMIG funds for these projects in lieu of resurfacing would be a wise use of our money.

"I also think we'd be better off to hold off on resurfacing until we get a completed resurfacing priority report from our consultant."

Alexander also suggested that the county contribute $30,000 in special-purpose local-option sales tax funds for an intersection improvement project at U.S. 19 and State Highways 32 and 195.

"This would greatly improve westbound traffic flow, and the county's cost would be only $30,000," Alexander said. "The city of Leesburg has already committed ($30,000) to the project, and the state has committed ($60,000)."

Commissioner Rick Muggridge, who noted that he had had to "wait through five traffic light changes because of traffic flow" at the intersection before getting to the meeting just as it was to begin, said improvements were greatly needed at the intersection.

"We should do something, and we should do it now instead of later," he said.

A possible future problem arose when facilities supervisor John Patrick recommended that the commission approve Advantage Vinyl Siding and Roofing's "lowest responsive bid" of $18,250 for re-roofing of the T. Page Tharp Governmental Building. Both Muggridge and Commissioner Dennis Roland said they had concerns about the work of the company.

"I don't know that I could vote for the low bidder," Roland said, and Muggridge added, "I'd have a difficult time voting to spend money with them."

Neither commissioner would elaborate on his concern, and County Attorney Jimmy Skipper said, "The commission makes the decision as to what's 'responsive' with the bid process. It's not just the lowest bid."

As reported in a recent Albany Herald story, the commission is considering creating a marshal's office that would allow the county's Code Enforcement officers to carry firearms while on duty. They formally discussed that issue for the first time Tuesday.

"There are situations when Code Enforcement officers are serving a citation that get a little feisty and in some instances become volatile," Commission Chairman Ed Duffy said. "I believe this is a responsible thing to do for the personal safety of our personnel."

Muggridge spoke in support of the measure.

"I think it's incumbent upon us to provide any means necessary for our employees to protect themselves," he said.