By Tia Lynn Ivey managing editor
The Madison Mayor and City Council expressed heavy disappointment and sharp criticism toward the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) last Monday, after the county opted to delay a city paving project until a $400,000 payment for the Airport Expansion is settled. “It’s ludicrous,” said Mayor Fred Perriman, who noted the payment to the county is contingent on federal money coming through and beyond the city’s control. “I just can’t believe that the county refuses to help the city with this project because they haven’t received payment yet…because of an act of God,” lamented Perriman. “The community and commissioners need to know that we are working diligently on this matter and doing everything we can, but for them to punish the people in this particular area because they have not received their check? Well, that just says a lot about our commissioners.”
According to the city, it’s up to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to award the city with the money to pay for the land sale. The airport expansion is being funded through a federal grand with the FAA, which takes time, said City Manager David Nunn. The BOC discussed the matter at the last regular meeting. “I think we should help the City of Madison, but I think they should live up to their responsibility to us before we do,” said Commissioner Ellen Warren, who noted that the county has been waiting almost two years for this payout. “It would be different if we hadn’t been waiting on this for several years and depending on this on our budget.” The BOC also indicated their willingness to eventually approve the city’s request for help with paving.
“It seems like the board is saying they would rather wait until after the airport land purchase is further resolved before proceeding,” said County Manager Michael Lamar. Lamar noted that the county may go ahead and help with the ‘tot lot’ project as soon as possible, since the project’s completion could help the city acquire a grant they are currently vying for. “We’ll probably go ahead and do that, and wait a bit on the rest,” said Lamar. City Councilman Joe DiLetto was also distraught over the matter, believing the county’s decision only unfairly affects the county’s own constituents. “It’s a real shame that the taxpayers who live in that area, who pay county taxes by the way, can’t get the county to help service that area,” chided DiLetto. City Manager David Nunn pledged the city would proceed with the paving projects without county help.
The city originally asked the county to pave a portion of Crawford Street and Hill Park, and to assist with clearing and grubbing a “tot lot” on White Hall Street, with the city intending to pay for the cost of asphalt. “It’s a small job,” said Nunn. “This was something we were trying to work together on, but I just did not expect the county to make this linkage between these two matters…everyone always says that they want the city and the county to work together. I thought this was a good opportunity for the county to help the city, since we don’t ask for a lot concerning roads, it was a small job and they could do it…for the benefit to all those who use those streets. I was very disappointed.” “And so are the county taxpayers who live in that area,” added DiLetto. “This was inconsequential to them,” said City Council Chris Hodges. “I guess it was more of a gesture than anything.” Perriman hoped to work together with the county in the future. “So many people I talk to tell me that they want to see our city and county have a better relationship. We need to work together for our people.”