Legislators speak at Vincent town hall meeting

State Reps. Mike Hill, R-Shelby, and Jim McClendon, R-Shelby/St. Clair, visited Vincent Elementary School Friday morning to speak about legislative issues and hear feedback.

Hill spoke about how lucky Shelby residents are to live in a well-managed, fiscally responsible county.

“The county commission does a phenomenal job of making sure we don’t overspend,” he said.

That’s not the case in neighboring Jefferson County, which is in the midst of a financial crisis.

“They might not end up in bankruptcy, I don’t know, but I don’t see any other way out for them,” Hill said. “They have themselves in total disarray, and I point to the leaders of the county.”

McClendon agreed, saying Jefferson County is the opposite of Shelby County.

“What’s going on across the line in Jefferson County is a travesty, it really is.”

Hill also spoke about the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, saying the department excels at protecting citizens and working with local, state and federal agencies.

“We’ve got one of the best sheriff’s departments in the world,” he said. “People come from all over the United States to see their operations.”

He spoke directly to Vincent citizens about a local sore spot — the sharply curving bridge on Highway 25 close to the elementary school.

“This is the worst bridge in Shelby County. Absolutely the worst bridge in Shelby County,” Hill said.

Next summer, construction will begin to completely rebuild the bridge. Construction should take approximately 10 months, Hill said.

Both representatives spoke about the state budget and the difficulties of making cutbacks.

A year ago, the state budget was at $7.2 billion. This year, the budget dropped to $6.2 billion. For 2010, state legislators are expecting to work with a budget of $5.4-$5.8 billion.

However, McClendon said legislators are up to the task.

“I don’t know how it happens, but we always seem to recover and come up with enough to get the job done,” he said.