Ten new employees were hired for the Madison County Road Department - an increase of 20 percent - to an annual tune of over $300,000, a non-budgeted expense.

The hires, which were placed on the consent agenda, were pulled off and questioned by District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen.

"Hiring 10 people is a good many people?" he questioned Road Manager Lawrence Morris.

Morris said the new hires were truck drivers and regulators.

Steen asked how many would be spending their time at Sulphur Springs Park in northeast Madison County and Morris said it could be four one day, three another.

"It all depends - kind of really hard to say," Morris said.

District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin then jumped in the conversation saying they would be wherever Morris assigned them.

Morris then told Steen he had the money in his budget when County Administrator Mark Houston interrupted to say otherwise.

"Let me offer a correction," he said. "Those are not currently in the budget."

Houston said he and Comptroller Shelton Vance intended on submitting a budget amendment in the future but there might be areas in the road fund that could be cut.

For the remainder of the year, the cost will be over $100,000 and $310,000 annually thereafter.

Of the 10 new hires, six are previous road department employees that were laid off two years ago during downsizing.

As Steen continued to grill Morris on the hires, District 1 Supervisor John Bell Crosby jumped in to defend the road manager.

"I know awhile back the motion was made to hire some more people and look at funding," he said. "Is this a part of that? Really, you're reacting by a vote the board did."

However, no such record could be found in the board minutes.

Griffin then went to bat for the new hires, too, saying the citizens deserve to have more people in the road department.

"I know they see and feel those potholes," he said. "Our guys are working as hard as they can work. We won't catch up without some additional help."

He then made the motion that passed 3-1, with Steen the lone vote against. District 2 Supervisor Ronny Lott was not present due to a family health issue.

The new hires include:

• Robin Love, truck driver, $11.50/hour

• Larry Alexander, truck driver, $11.50/hour

• Kenvoris Brooks, truck driver, $11.50/hour

• Robert Brown, truck driver, $11/hour

• Kevin Small, truck driver, $11.50/hour

• Brian Taylor, laborer, $11/hour

• Kershman Dixon, laborer, $11/hour

• Michael Curtis, laborer, $11/hour

• William Smith, laborer, $11/hour

• Thomas Gray, operator, $13.39/hour