By Blenda Copeland
It may not be a lot of money, but it’s a lot of money to the town of Hurtsboro. That’s the point Hurtsboro Mayor Vivian Covington, accompanied by Councilwoman Eula Phillips, made as she addressed the Russell County Commission during public comments Sept. 12 ahead of the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting.
In front of a full audience, Covington publicly asked the commission why gas tax was being withheld from the Town of Hurtsboro. She said the Hurtsboro city council would like to see a copy of the commission’s minutes, if any exist, reflecting where the commission voted to stop giving Hurtsboro the portion of gas taxes. Covington also gave commissioners a copy of a July 12-dated letter from County Attorney Kenneth Funderburk’s office, signed by Funderburk, addressed to Hurtsboro’s city clerk.
A copy of the letter states in part, “[…] after a thorough research of legislation dealing with gas tax, we have determined that Russell County owes no gas tax to Hurtsboro. We have determined that all money paid to Hurtsboro for many years was mistakenly paid and Hurtsboro would owe Russell County a reimbursement for all funds paid to Hurtsboro in error relative to gas tax. No funds will be due in the future since no law exists requiring Russell County to pay funds to Hurtsboro for gas tax Russell County receives. Further, Russell County will not take action against Hurtsboro for the monies paid in error, from the State of Alabama provided that Hurtsboro accepts that it will not receive any such payments in the future from Russell County.”
After Covington finished her comments, Commissioner Gentry Lee publicly replied. All we need to say on this is, it’s in court, he said.
Regarding Lee’s comment, Covington said the town of Hurtsboro isn’t part of that lawsuit and according to the League of Municipalities’ legal department, the money is due to Hurtsboro. She said the town hasn’t received gas taxes from the county since January. She confirmed the amount due is only a few hundred dollars.