Batemon, Manning to seek commission chairman's office
by Will Heath
Two members of the St. Clair County Commission declared their intent to seek the chairman’s office in 2014 as part of a budget discussion.

In a work session prior to Tuesday’s regular meeting of the commission, Chairman Stan Batemon — whose seat comes up for election in 2014 — declared that he would seek re-election in both the June primary and the November general election.

“I am announcing my intent to seek re-election,” he said. “The governor has already declared he will seek re-election, so I guess I will, also. … I know Commissioner (Paul) Manning has considered it, as well.”

Manning, chairman pro tem and commissioner for District 3, confirmed his intention a few minutes later.

“I have always had a desire to be chairman of the County Commission,” he said. “If I’m ever going to make an attempt to be chairman, that time is now.

“I didn’t come here to make an announcement, but I am going to make that announcement.”

The two made their announcements as part of a larger discussion around the county’s upcoming budget talks, which will begin in earnest in the next few weeks (the county’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1).

Batemon said the budget will be constrained in the future because of the county’s obligation to the Coosa Valley Water Supply District — as one of four members of the district, the county is obligated to purchasing 750,000 gallons of water per day, an $800,000 annual expenditure. The commission has attempted repeatedly to sell the water to other entities, but has not found any success thus far.

“We’ve let people know we’ve got it, but so far nobody has said they would take it,” Batemon said after the meeting.

Manning, who serves as chairman of the Coosa Valley Water Supply District board, said he knew of one entity with a serious interest in purchasing both the county’s portion “plus more,” but that the entity was not prepared to make its interest public.

“We all (on the commission) know we need to move as much water as we can,” said Manning. “We have all worked toward that. I think it needs to be the goal of everybody on this commission to accomplish that.”

Manning — elected to another term as District 3 commissioner in 2012 — will not be required to resign his seat to run for chairman and could continue serving if he loses the race. Tuesday, Batemon called for him to step down as chairman of Coosa Valley Water.

“I think we need to get somebody else to serve on that board, who can help us come to a resolution,” Batemon said. “We need to move forward with that as quickly as possible.”

Batemon also asked that Manning and Commissioner Jeff Brown work with Chief Financial Officer Donna Wood and County Administrator Kellie Graff as part of a Budget Committee. Manning, for his part, said he would not resign as Commissioner, but that he would consider resigning from Coosa Valley Water if he thought it in the best interest of the board.

“Anything that I think is in the best interest of that project, I will do,” he said.

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© 2013