UPDATED — The Birmingham City Council has passed on the opportunity to submit a full slate of nominees to the Jefferson County Board of Equalization, the body that oversees property tax appraisals in the city and countywide.
At its Tuesday meeting, councilors voted to nominate only one candidate, incumbent board member Karen Wadlington, to continue service on the board. Alabama law allows the council to nominate up to three candidates.*
Councilor Valerie Abbott asked President Wardine Alexander why the body wasn’t nominating additional candidates to the board during Tuesday’s meeting inside Boutwell Auditorium.
“We did not have any other submissions that they wanted to remain or that they were coming up for re-nomination,” Alexander said. “This was the only nomination that was submitted to us.”
Abbott suggested that, even so, the council should have exercised its legal right to a full complement of nominees.
“They’re our nominations, right?” Abbott asked her colleagues. “Well, it says it has to be done on or before August 1, 2023. So it sounds like we missed the window. The window is closing at midnight tonight.”
The Jefferson County Board of Equalization’s primary function is to field protests of real estate appraisals – value assessments that impact citizens’ property tax rates.
Once nominees for empty positions on the board are selected by the City Council and other local bodies, new members are selected from among the list by the state revenue commissioner.
Alexander later emphasized that nominating three candidates for consideration for the board is an option under Alabama law but not a requirement.
“Today, the Birmingham City Council voted unanimously to nominate a current member of the Jefferson County Board of Equalization for consideration of reappointment. According to the statute, each of the three nominating bodies – the Birmingham City Council, the Jefferson County Commission, and the Birmingham Board of Education – can make up to three nominations for consideration. However, nominating three candidates is not a requirement under the law,” Alexander said.
“Tuesday’s action of nominating one individual is not without precedent. In 2015, the council submitted one candidate for consideration for this board. It’s also worth noting that today’s action did not limit Birmingham’s representation on the board, seeing as though Karen Wadlington is the current member who was nominated by the council.
“She has undergone the extensive training and has completed the necessary steps to be considered for reappointment to the position,” Alexander continued. “As made evident by the unanimous vote, we are confident that she is the right candidate to move forward and represent the interests of the citizens of Birmingham.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, like the week before, Alexander emphasized the importance of the board to Birmingham’s citizens.
“We talked last week about how important this board is to our citizens when they have any question about their property taxes when they get those notifications,” Alexander said. “If you have any problems with that, you go to this board – if you want to dispute what your property tax has been equated to.”
*This story has been corrected to reflect that the city had the ability to nominate three people for consideration, not six.