Editor’s Note: This is a Q&A session with The Herald and Elmore County Commission chairman Troy Stubbs.
Q: Looking back at 2019, what are two to three of the commission’s noteworthy achievements?
A: I think that 2019 provided us with an opportunity to see a few major undertakings come to completion.
When we took office, we recognized the need to make changes to the compensation structure for our employees and the importance of retaining quality employees.
In 2019, through a lot of research and a lot of meetings and a lot of counseling, we were able to implement our merit-based raise program.
All of our employees throughout the county are now a part of a merit-based system for compensation increases.
We’ve been working on that for several years. We were really excited to pass our 2020 budget because it had funding for those merit-based increases by each department. We are seeing that happen now.
That is not something that is always easy to do in the public sector.
Another is the passing of Rebuild Alabama. That was a huge step for the Sstate of Alabama. We, in Elmore County, are a beneficiary of that.
Especially being a growing county, this funding is important to growth and public safety and the educational sector. The passage of Rebuild Alabama has provided us with additional funding in 2020 and also additional grant programs.
We are able to apply for those grants that will help us improve the infrastructure in the county and get projects going.
Q: What are some projects you hoped would have started in 2019 or may not have progressed as far along as expected?
A: The uncertainty surrounding the prisons in Elmore County. This has been going on for four years.
The discussion of the need to change the prison system in the state, the need to improve the facilities, the question marks of whether the facilities in Elmore County will stay — will new prisons be built?
These are all questions that the state has to resolve. They dramatically affect Elmore County.
We’ve been in limbo for several years as we’ve tried to navigate the discussions that take place at the state level with the (Alabama) Department of Corrections. They are all working hard to find a solution.
It has not come to a head yet so we do not know where we stand as a county. The prisons in Elmore County are a big economic influencer in our local economy.
So, we would love to see a resolution on that matter and one that benefits Elmore County.
I do anticipate some real progress here in 2020.
Another area where I think we all like to see faster progress in 2020 is internet and broadband access. We recognized from the beginning of our term in 2016 that was a major issue in our county.
We are extremely excited about Central Alabama Electric’s initiative to reach some of the areas currently unserved or underserved. We have been looking for solutions for that because we know it is an issue concerning economic development, education, general lifestyle and comfort for our county.
We have done some things through our economic development team to help. While we are making progress, we would all like to make that move quicker.
I know Central Alabama is moving as fast as it can. If they were not in the game, I do not know where we would be. We would probably be sitting at Square 0.
Q: What are two or three main priorities of the county you want to highlight for 2020?
A: I think a couple are things that were moving very well in 2019 and we would like to see the continuation in 2020 — the merit-based raises and implementation of that, also, Rebuild Alabama and the implementation of that, as well.
Those are two areas that are new to us in fiscal year 2020. I am interested to see how those two programs move along.
Another priority is our efforts with regards to the beautification of Elmore County. We’re initiating a new collections location that will be a centralized location with hopes to expand to more areas in the county.
That will be areas for our citizens to bring trash, debris and recycling materials. It will be a one-stop shop for county residents to drop off these items at their convenience for free.
We hope our roadside collection facility will discourage roadside dumping.
Also, we need to be continually engaged in the 2020 Census in the county. We need to make sure all of our partners are aware and we are doing everything we can to make sure we are represented in the Census.
We anticipate an increased population. We need it to be an accurate reflection so we are accurately funded for our schools, infrastructure and everything else.
I believe Elmore County is poised for growth. With that growth comes more traffic, more people and more construction.
Healthcare is another area I am very focused on. I have been actively working with healthcare professionals who are building the new complex near Lowe’s.
I anticipate real improvements in the healthcare options for the citizens in Elmore County.
We’re going to tackle it head on and find a way to bring these services that are necessary for the people of Elmore County. We’re going to bring them to Elmore County.
We hope we can alleviate the pressures and stress that come with long travel to receive healthcare.
People who are in need of serious healthcare on a regular basis having to travel an hour to receive that care just adds to the cost and the stress. Some do not have transportation.
It just makes it more difficult. I hope we can bring those services to Elmore County.
I don’t know if it will happen in 2020, but we are making some real steps to make that happen.
Q: What are some concerns you have for the county?
A: I would say one of our primary concerns is growing the right way. We anticipate growth and we’ve experienced growth.
We want our land to be developed in the right way. We want people coming in to feel comfortable and engaged. We want to make sure we are making progress on the five pillars of our community.
That’s always a concern because you focus on one pillar and another does not get the attention that it needs.
When you grow, your public safety also has to grow. Your healthcare has to keep up with that. Your education, infrastructure and economic vitality all have to keep up.
Those are the five pillars. If you’re growing, you have to be able to grow with it.
These are the vital foundations of the growth. Being able to keep up with that is a challenge.
Finding that balance keeps me up at night because there are a lot of factors we do not control, but we have to be ready to react.
Q: If you had no constraints and could wave a magic wand, what would be one thing you would fix in the county?
A: I think for a multitude of reasons is would be to have every road paved, every bridge reinforced, every dirt road that desires to be paved is paved.
I think that would resolve a lot of issues and free up a lot of funds to do a lot of the other things.
From a monetary perspective, that is a Goliath expense to cover.