Madison Co. Commission to Retool Policy Allowing District Shops to do Private Work

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Getting a load of gravel to repair a private driveway as a public service will likely continue in Madison County.

The County Commission reached a consensus during a work session Wednesday morning to continue services allowed under the Private Work Act, but to reform the local policy to create more checks and balances.

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"My thought is that private work needs to be done away with," says Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

Strong introduced the idea of ending private work after a state audit revealed an off-the-books bank account within the office of former Madison Commissioner Jerry Craig.

The audit confirms, as has been reported, that the District 3 office failed to comply with state law governing the handling of fees for private work performed by county crews.

"Let's leave it to the rural commissioners to come up with a plan," suggested District 6 Commissioner Bob Harrison.

The three rural commissioners, Roger Jones, Eddie Sisk and Phil Vandiver, however, have all said they want to continue using their district shops to assist constituents with services unavailable or too costly for them.

Jones and Sisk were absent from the work session, but Vandiver, who represents District 4, said the law has allowed private work since 1980, and yearly audits found only once where the practice failed to comply with the law.

"I would like to keep this thing going," he said, "but I want to make sure it's done legally."

District 5 Commissioner Phil Riddick and District 6 Commissioner Bob Harrison said while they don't provide private work, they didn't feel right about taking that away from constituents they don't represent.

The commission is required by law to create a policy governing such private work, publish the policy and the fees in a newspaper, and to ensure payment is made upon completion. State law requires the money generated be spent on road repairs.

The audit found the District 3 office failed on all counts.

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