Ellis recognized for law that will save counties money

Published 2:58 pm Friday, January 3, 2020

COLUMBIANA – Alabama Rep. Corley Ellis (R-Columbiana) was recognized by the Shelby County Commission on Monday, Dec. 23, for his role in the adoption of a law that saves counties money on appraisals for acquiring rights-of-way.

In the past, the Alabama Department of Transportation and county highway departments utilized waiver valuations to acquire rights-of-way when a mutual agreement was reached with private landowners.

But the Federal Highway Administration advised that Alabama law did not recognize the federal concept of a waiver valuation.

In the absence of waiver valuations, full appraisals would have been required for every right-of-way acquisition, no matter how small a piece of property or how low its value.

“We were the only state in the country that had the verbiage in the law that would not allow us to use these waiver valuations,” Shelby County Engineer Randy Cole said and noted that a $5,000 appraisal could be required for a $250 piece of property. “When [Ellis] saw what we were paying, he gladly joined in. It’s much easier now to acquire rights-of-way than it was before this bill was passed.

Ellis sponsored an amendment to the statutory provisions to allow for waiver valuations if:

  • The property owner is donating the property and releases the governmental entity from its appraisal obligations, or
  • The governmental entity, with the written consent of the property owner, determines an appraisal is not necessary and the anticipated property value is equal to or less than the amount in the applicable federal regulation, which is currently $10,000.

Ellis’ bill was unanimously approved by the Alabama Legislature and became law in May.

Ellis was presented a plaque of appreciation by Commissioner Kevin Morris.

In other business, the Commission:

  • Awarded bids for liquid aluminum sulfate and janitorial services to the lowest responsive bidders.
  • Approved a continuation grant for the Office of Violence Against Women-Justice for Families program.
  • Approved a request from the Property Tax Commissioner for the reinstatement of two 32-hour per week, part-time Appraiser I positions from the property maintenance operation budget.