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FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 2007
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Limestone County government officials and community leaders  were among the residents in attendance at a BRAC impact forum at Athens State on Thursday. Limestone officials are expecting more than 8,000 people to move to the county within the next five years with the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's relocation of jobs to Redstone Arsenal.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Limestone County government officials and community leaders were among the residents in attendance at a BRAC impact forum at Athens State on Thursday. Limestone officials are expecting more than 8,000 people to move to the county within the next five years with the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's relocation of jobs to Redstone Arsenal.

Bracing for BRAC
Limestone officials preparing
for influx of relocating families

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ATHENS — Limestone County Commission Chairman David Seibert remembers when he drove a school bus and drove on only two paved roads.

That was 1970. This is 2007.

And Seibert and other community leaders are having to deal with an expected 8,430 more people who'll move here in five years with the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission's relocation of jobs to Redstone Arsenal.

That includes planning for monetary needs like a $100 million capital plan for Limestone County Schools and $53 million expansion plan by Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority.

"I thought about passing the hat out tonight," Tim Mitchell, planning and construction manager for LCWSA, joked at a BRAC Impact Forum at Athens State University on Thursday.

Plans and monetary needs differ for each entity.

LCSWA is planning to take out two $20 million bonds to expand sewer. Mitchell said the system expects to pick up 4,000 sewer customers in five years.

For county schools, Superintendent Barry Carroll said he expects an influx of 10,000 students from BRAC and the growth already occurring in the county. The system's $100 million capital plan includes three new elementary schools.

"We don't have the resources to fund that capital plan," Carroll said. "If we pinched pennies, we probably could afford one elementary school."

Carroll said the school board is working on a plan that will address revenue needs.

The board is hoping to get $3 million to $6 million from the state when the state issues a bond for schools.

Athens Superintendent Orman Bridges Jr. said the city gets 26 percent of the county's students. Athens, he said, could get up to 500 more students through BRAC.

The system, he said, has enough seats to handle those students.

"But we have old facilities that need attention, and we have facilities that are landlocked," Bridges said.

Athens Mayor Dan Williams said if the city's revenue continues at its current rate, expenses will surpass revenue by as much as $385,000 by 2012.

Williams said property taxes don't generate enough money to cover the services the city provides.

Williams said Athens received $405 per year per house from property taxes but spends $1,245 per year per house.

The mayor said the city will have to combat that by looking at the level of services it provides vs. the cost.

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