County manager gives update on State of the County, its future

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

PELHAM – County Manager Chad Scroggins recently delivered an address on the progress the county has made this year and a look toward its future.

The Shelby County Chamber held its annual State of the County luncheon at the Pelham Civic Complex on Wednesday, Oct. 25, during which Scroggins provided an update on projects in Shelby County and the direction it is headed.

“It’s really a great opportunity to talk about Shelby County,” Scroggins said. “I get this opportunity every day.”

Scroggins opened his presentation by discussing the 615 employees of Shelby County and how each division serves the county’s 14 municipalities and 235,000 residents.

“All the county government really does is we take the resources of the people in this county, we combine them and collectively serve you with those resources,” Scroggins said. “It’s a mission that we have that we’re proud to do.”

Scroggins said Shelby County is the only county in the state of Alabama that has nine county commissioners.

“That allows us to have a more diverse array of thought in how we want to better manage the county and really drive the county into its future,” Scroggins said.

According to Scroggins, Shelby County has the lowest unemployment rate in the state of Alabama and leads in every statistical category from per capita income, median household income and the highest education rate.

“We have a lot to really be proud of and it takes everyone in this room (and) every one of our 235,000 plus residents to meet these numbers,” Scroggins said.

However, despite leading in the state, Shelby County is still behind when compared to the country as a whole which is an issue the county cares deeply about.

“I’m proud to say that our staff doesn’t just look at being the best in Alabama—that’s something we strive to do better,” Scroggins said.

Shelby County’s projected budget revenues for fiscal year 2024 are set at $148 million.

“Cheryl Naugher, our CFO, works many, many hours on putting together the best, most conservative budget analysis that we can possibly have to make sure that we are accurate, that we’re not going to come in below those budgets (and) projections,” Scroggins said. “We also are very careful with our expenditures. In the last 20 years we have come in under expenditure lines. Our staff does a great job managing the resources that’s given to them.”

Scroggins said the county is conservatively projecting a downturn in sales tax for the next fiscal year due to global issues and the inflation rate.

Scroggins provided a breakdown of many of the county’s upcoming projects including the long-awaited expansion of Interstate 65 from Alabaster to Calera.

“We have initiated the largest single highway project in Shelby County’s history,” he said. “This is the announcement that happened 364 days from David (Willingham) taking the seat as the county engineer—the $300 million expansion of I-65 (is) from Exit 238 in Alabaster down to just below Exit 231 in Calera. We’re very proud of this project because the team really spurred ALDOT (the Alabama Department of Transportation) to try to get this going, and we were successful in doing so.”

According to Willingham, preliminary engineering is done for the expansion and the county expects preliminary drawings sometime soon.

Another significant project by the highway department that the county is excited about is the railroad crossing elimination program.

Shelby County is a funding partner with the city of Pelham as it works out the details to create a way to cross over the railroad tracks on County Road 52.

“This will actually have a railroad crossing that will cross over the railroad tracks there (and) eliminate some of those odd curves,” Scroggins said. “It’s about a $54 million project and the city of Pelham put together a very aggressive application and we’re thankful to be a partner in that project.”

Shelby County also recently awarded a bid for the second largest building project in the county’s history with new additions to Shelby County Jail. The expansion will bring a new segregation unit as well as a specialized medical health unit.

The expansion will also bring a complete retooling of the entire building and bring its technology up to modern standards.

“This is a large project and I’m excited about it because I feel like it’ll just be safer for men and women inside the jail,” Scroggins said. “We will definitely be able to provide better services and certainly mental health matters but for our staff members, it is important to keep them safe.”

Scroggins also highlighted the opening of Double Oak Park back in October 2022. The Shelby County Commission recently approved a resolution calling for the creation and expansion of 12 miles of multi-use recreational trails at the park.

“We’re proud of this new addition to serve the residents,” Scroggins said. “One good thing about when the county buys 879 acres and develops it into a park—it’s there forever.”

Scroggins also highlighted a new services improvement for the county in the form of new kiosks at multiple license offices—easing residents’ ability to renew their car tags.

“We’re the only county that I know of that you can actually renew your car tag 24-hours-a-day in the parking lot,” he said.

The Shelby County Landfill is set to receive improved access as well as a new scale house and the Shelby County Airport is set to receive two new hangars.

Scroggins highlighted the passage of the county’s comprehensive plan which has recently won state awards.

“We’re excited to actually implement this (and) now we’ve already picked out some of these projects that the residents wanted in this plan.”

Scroggins commended the staff of Discover Shelby and the good the new program has done for the county during the last 12 months.

“They have a done a world of difference in the number of events and the enhancement of events in Shelby County,” he said.

Scroggins discussed the kinds of opportunities that the county is pursuing in the next year.

“We’re chasing these economic opportunities, we’re looking at ways to deliver services better, we’re looking for more partnerships and recreational opportunities,” he said.

Scroggins ended his presentation by expressing his gratitude for being able to serve Shelby County.

“It’s really an honor for us as staff members to serve you here in Shelby County,” Scroggins said. “We take it seriously, and we want to make sure that we’re always utilizing your resources (in) the best way possible.”