Category: Government

Don’t Look at Us, Jefferson County Commission Tells People Upset Over Rising Property Taxes

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens used the commission’s committee meeting today as a platform to dispel the misconception that county government is raising property taxes through reappraisals.

“There’s a misconception that the county commission is responsible for this and I want everyone to be clear that the county commission is not responsible for this,” Stephens said. “This is a state function.”

However, county employees do conduct the property appraisals, Stephens said. Property values assigned by the county’s Board of Equalization reflect property sales activity in the market, the chairwoman of the board said. Read more.

New Birmingham Bold Funding Approved for Economic Development Projects, From Help for Small Businesses to Job Training for Single Mothers

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to approve $680,949.46 in program funding for seven local organizations as part of Mayor Randall Woodfin’s Building Opportunities for Lasting Development initiative.

Adah International, the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Birmingham Business Resource Center, Jefferson State Community College, REV Birmingham, the Salvation Army, and the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham were the beneficiaries in Bold’s second year, following approval of the program’s “inaugural class” last November.

Several of the projects will help small businesses, with a focus on women-owned, minority-owned and disadvantaged businesses, while others will support underprivileged mothers and children and help residents improve their work skills. Read more.

High Court Rules Confederate Monument Outside Birmingham City Hall Cannot Be Covered, Fines City

UPDATED – The Alabama Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the city of Birmingham had violated state law by covering a Confederate monument outside City Hall. The decision reverses a previous ruling by the Jefferson County Circuit Court and orders the city to pay $25,000 in penalties to the state of Alabama.

The monument in question, in Birmingham’s Linn Park, was ordered covered in August 2017 by then-Mayor William Bell following deadly riots surrounding a Confederate monument in Charlottesville, Virginia. The monument, then-City Council President Johnathan Austin contended, “celebrate(s) racism, bigotry, hate and all those things that the South has been known for.”

By covering the monument, Bell said he intended to “challenge” state law, specifically the just-passed Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017, which prohibits local governments from moving or altering historically significant buildings or monuments that are more than 40 years old without permission from the state. The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument was first placed in Linn Park by the Pelham chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1905. Read more.

Birmingham Water Works Board Approves Rate Increase

Birmingham Water Works customers will have slightly higher monthly water bills starting in January 2020. The Birmingham Water Works Board voted 5-1 Tuesday in favor of a 3.9% rate increase. Rick Jackson, spokesman for the Water Works Board, says the increase is necessary to maintain a viable water system and replace 100-year-old water mains. Read more.

Birmingham City Council Approves Deal for AHSAA Football Championship Games, Will Consider Naming Five Points South an Entertainment District

During its brief Nov. 26 meeting, the Birmingham City Council turned its eye to the future of the city’s entertainment industry, approving a contract to host state high school football championships at the in-development Protective Stadium and setting a public hearing to designate one area of the city an entertainment district.

The council voted to approve an agreement with the Alabama High School Athletic Association to host its football championships at the city’s under-construction Protective Stadium in 2021, 2024, 2027 and 2030. The $175 million stadium, which will seat roughly 45,000 people, started construction last December.

As part of the agreement, the city will provide up to $125,000 in economic incentives to the AHSAA; in turn, the resolution states, the championship games will generate an estimated $10,000,000 in economic impact for the city. Read more.

PSC Hears Arguments for Raising or Abolishing Alabama Power’s Fees for Solar Users

Spectators – many wearing ‘Let It Shine’ stickers – packed a Public Service Commission hearing room this morning to hear testimony about the fees Alabama Power Company charges residents to use solar panels or other alternative means of power generation.

As the 2½-hour hearing concluded, Administrative Law Judge John A. Garner instructed both sides to prepare briefs to be delivered on or before Dec. 20. The matter will be taken under advisement, and the ruling will be made during an open meeting of the commission.

Two persons were escorted from today’s proceedings for failing to adhere to Garner’s order of no recordings. One woman was shooting video of the hearing while another was livestreaming the event. Read more.

Questions Loom One Year After Hoover Mall Shooting

It’s been one year since a Hoover police officer shot and killed a young black man in a crowded mall on Thanksgiving night. The shooting of 21-year-old Emantic “EJ” Bradford Jr. happened at the Riverchase Galleria Mall after officers wrongly thought he was the person who fired a gun in the mall. The incident led to several protests and calls for justice. Read more.

Alexander Retains Seat in Birmingham City Council District 7 Runoff

Despite strong opposition from challenger Ray Brooks, incumbent District 7 City Councilor Wardine Alexander appears to have retained her seat on the Birmingham City Council.

Alexander secured 869 votes compared to Brooks’ 751 votes, or 53.6% and 47.4% of the vote, respectively. That vote count does not include provisional ballots, which have yet to be tallied. Turnout in Tuesday’s election was 9.36%, according to the city clerk’s office. Read more.

Jefferson County Officials Meet With Cooper Green Workers About Health Care Authority

Tony Petelos told the Jefferson County Commission Tuesday that he and others would meet Wednesday with employees of Cooper Green Mercy Health Service in the next step toward its transition to a health authority.

The county manager said the employee meetings will begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue until about noon in the Cooper Green cafeteria.

“We’ll have people with UAB and also our payroll folks talking about the transition,” Petelos said. “We’ve moved the transition date to approximately April 1st. We’ll talk about the benefits and all the benefits will be transferring over to the health care authority.” Read more.