City Council Report: Repaving Roads, Not Moving Them

The April 11 meeting of the Birmingham City Council was a relatively uneventful one, with nearly all of the ordinances and resolutions considered by the council relegated to the consent agenda, which the council quickly passed.

Councilors Steven Hoyt and Marcus Lundy were absent, leaving City Council President Johnathan Austin flanked on both sides by empty chairs.

In addition to typical ordinances such as those regarding the abatement of noxious weeds and inoperable motor vehicles, the meeting’s consent agenda also included a resolution to allocate $51,250 to the nonprofit organization Growing Kings to “implement aggressive programs of mentoring, pre-trial diversion, and workforce development training for the City’s young males;” the appointments of two new consultants to Councilor William Parker’s office, both to be paid $4,500; and the allocation of $498,200 to the Dora-based company Tate Contracting and Excavating, Inc. for the city’s annual pavement patching contract.

The council also voted to give Dunn Construction Company, Inc., a lump sum of $9,618,988.25 as part of a contract to repave streets in the city over the next six months as part of a five-year “Smart Resurfacing” plan.

A deferred item from the council’s March 21 meeting, which would have allocated $2 million of the city’s grants fund budget to a study regarding the potential future relocation of Interstate 20/59, was present on this week’s agenda, but Mayor William Bell – whose office, along with the Economic Development, Budget and Finance Committee, proposed the ordinance –withdrew the item before discussion could take place. At the March 21 meeting, some councilors had expressed skepticism over the proposal’s long-term utility; the mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the item had been withdrawn.

The agenda’s most notable source of dissent came from a resolution that would allocate money from Advanced Expense Accounts for travel expenses: a total of $1,875.77 for Parker to attend meetings with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior and Georgia State University in Atlanta this month; and a total of $3,037.12 for Willie Watson, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Policing and Revitalization, to travel to Omaha, Nebraska, for the 2017 Neighborhood USA Conference from May 23 to May 27, and to Orlando, Florida, for the 32nd National Preventing Crime in the Black Community Conference from May 31 to June 1.

Councilor Valerie Abbott asked for clarification of who Willie Watson was, saying that she didn’t recognize him or the acronym of his office, CPR.

“I had to ask who Willie Watson was myself,” Bell responded, laughing.

Abbott voted against the item, but hers was the only dissenting vote; the item passed.

BirminghamWatch and Weld: Birmingham’s Newspaper are collaborating to cover the Birmingham City Council and the Jefferson County Commission.