Supervisors renewed a $60,000 annual contract with the Clearwater Group for lobbying services, citing success last year in securing $8 million for funding the Reunion interchange project. 

Austin Barbour, Michael Goode and Arnie Hederman are the three partners that make up the Clearwater Group. 

District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen brought the contract up under new business, saying the current contract expired in February. 

“I definitely think we need a lobbyist,” Steen said. “It’s very important that we have one. This group has done a good job, excellent job for us as well.”

Board President Trey Baxter seconded the motion, saying he wanted the board to give specific direction on particular items to lobby for. He brought up more funding for the interchange project and state aid for a multi-million dollar drivers license facility proposed for Madison County. 

District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin suggested that the county make sure that when it comes to lobbying the right people are approaching specific people. He said if this lobbying group was not the right fit for a specific project they need to take a back seat and let people who have the ears of certain groups “take the lead.”

District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones asked if spending $5,000 for lobbying was the right fit for the county. 

“I mean, a couple years ago, Trey, you and I fought over a $30,000 lobbying fee,” she said. 

Baxter responded by asking how much the county received from the state in funding before last year. 

Steen said they received $1 million back in 2013 from a lobbying group and that was the most since then. 

“I did not know (Clearwater Group),” Steen said. “I didn’t bring them to the table last year. To me, they’ve done a good job for the county. They lobbied a lot on the $8 million we received.”

Supervisors then unanimously approved renewing the contract for another year.