The Elba City Council awarded the contract for Elba’s sewer improvements project Monday night, June 8, during the regular council meeting. Upon recommendation from project engineers, CDG Engineers and Associates, the project was awarded to Blakenship Contracting Inc. The council awarded the base bid of $5,017,191 and four additional alternate bids for a total project cost of $5,389,366. CDG project manager Carmen Chosie said this bid came in well under budget, and that Rural Development was good with awarding the bid. The city had an approximate $7.4 million budget for construction on the sewer project. Therefore, Chosie said that leaves approximately $1.2 million for the city to have to work with should additional needs arise throughout the project. Following a motion by council member Jane Brunson and a second from council member Tom Maddox, the motion to award to Blakenship was approved unanimously. Chosie said ideally, she expects work by the contractor to begin mid-July to early-August. The project is expected to be completed within 300 consecutive days. The council revisited a previous discussion on the use of golf carts, ATVs and UTVs on the city streets. A work session on the matter was held Thursday evening, June 4, with the council, police chief, city attorney [via telephone] and several citizens in attendance. After a lengthy discussion of what is legal and what is not legal, along with ideas of what could be done, the work session concluded with the council asking attorney Bart Boothe to further look into several different matters. Monday evening during the council meeting, Boothe presented his findings to the council. “At last week’s work session, I was made aware [the council] wanted more information regarding the legality of golf carts, low speed vehicles [LSV], and other off-road vehicles upon city streets,” Boothe said. “Because golf carts are not ‘vehicles’ under current analysis [of Alabama law], they are not allowed on public roadways or sidewalks, except in Baldwin County where that county has a constitutional amendment allowing municipalities there to enact ordinances and zones for the operation of golf carts on the public roads.” Boothe noted that in contrast to golf carts, an LSV can be registered in Alabama and operated upon roadways. He said the county probate office shall register an LSV for operation in Alabama if said vehicle complies with all safety aspects of 49 CFR 571.500. “Off road vehicles that are manufactured for that purpose and that are labeled as such cannot be legal upon the street,” Boothe said. “Because the registration of an LSV requires such vehicle to be manufactured for its intended purpose, it is not possible to convert a golf cart or other vehicle to street use.” Boothe said he had found that in 2019 and again this year there was legislation, first introduced by Senator Jimmy Holley and this year by Senator Clyde Chambliss that would avoid the need for a local amendment. However, he said the legislation was not addressed before the end of the session either year. If such legislation were to be introduced in a future year and passed, Boothe said, as currently written this year, it would allow cities to define certain zones of use for non-conforming off road vehicles such as golf carts. Further, Boothe said a local amendment could be pursued by having the council publish its desire to introduce legislation four weeks prior to a regular session of the State Legislature and then after publication the city would have one of its state legislators introduce the bill for approval to be placed on the ballot at the next general election. Boothe said this kind of local amendment could be begun by the city and be city specific, but it would take time to go through all the steps. Boothe said in all statutes he had found on the matter of golf carts, etc. being used on streets, none allowed for children to operate the golf carts or LSV’s. He said all indicated the golf cart, LSV, etc. must be operated by a licensed driver. After hearing Boothe’s report, council members chose to take no action at this time on the golf carts issue in Elba. Therefore, the law remains that it is illegal to operate such vehicles on the roadways at this time. It was noted by several council members that it would be beneficial if the legislation that had been introduced the past two years, which would be a statewide movement, would be introduced again next year and passed. If that would happen, the city could then pass an ordinance with specific guidelines for use to make it a legal matter. Until then, the policing of the matter will be left to the discretion of Elba Police Officers. As he had said previously, Police Chief Leslie Hussey said to his knowledge no citation had ever been written for adults using golf carts in their neighborhoods as long as they were not being a nuisance. However, he said that remains at the discretion of officers on how to handle the manner should they encounter someone operating one on the roadways, at this time. Boothe said he had spoken with representatives at the League of Municipalities, and he said officials there said this is not an issue only for Elba. He said the desire to be able to operate golf carts on neighborhood roads is something that continues to gain support all across the state. “Basically, the law is behind what the people want at this time,” he said. Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council was updated on the measures taken to try and get trash pickup caught up across the city. City clerk Sally Bane said the city was still running two trucks with a 2-person crew on each truck as of this week. However, she said if all went well this week, there was confidence that everything would be caught up and the trash truck pickup would return to a regular schedule. The next city council meeting is set for Monday, June 22, at 5:30 p.m.

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