After Delays, Concord Storm Shelter Needs to Be Finished, Commissioner Says

Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens

Oct. 17, 2017 – Jefferson County Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said he’s tired of giving excuses to residents of Concord concerning the storm shelter for which they’ve been waiting.

“They’ve been waiting for six years for that storm shelter,” he said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “It’s time we took action and completed that storm shelter for the citizens of Concord. They have experienced numerous, large tornadoes. They need this shelter and protection for their community.”

The contractor who was to build the shelter went bankrupt. And while the building is up, commissioners said, the roof is not tied in.

“It’s important that we correct his mistakes,” Stephens said, “so we can move forward and get that done as quickly as possible.”

A bond is in place to handle the completion of the project. “Citizens really don’t understand that,” the commission president said. “They want results.”

Commissioners are set to approve an inclement weather policy for the courthouse. While agreeing with the policy, Commissioner David Carrington pointed out that shutting down the courthouse costs about $750,000 a day.

“When we first came into office, there was a precedent of things being approved without someone knowing what the cost was,” he said. “I wanted to make sure the commissioners understood that closing the courthouse for a day is a very expensive proposition, and quite frankly shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Carrington also noted that he has seen multiple amendments to contracts from Community Services.

“One had the fifth amendment, one had the second amendment,” he said. “I wanted to be sure that the amendments weren’t being used to add to a project, that it was truly an amendment based on timeframe that required or perhaps a minor change in cost. I don’t want to use the amendment process when there should be a brand-new contract.”

Stephens expressed concerns about some aspects of billing and collection as the county conducts business. He said there is a good process for billing and collecting sewer bills through Birmingham Water Works.

“We have other billing partners throughout the county and we need to be consistent in our billing and our collection processes,” Stephens said. “Our discussion today was making all those collection processes the same, collecting on an even playing field.

“There’s no process in place,” he continued. “There’s no agreement in place. I’ve been working with our legal department for six or eight months now to work through a collection process. Right now, there is none. It was designed today to perhaps light a fire under them so we can get that done.”

In another matter, commissioners agreed to spend $900,250 for the lease/purchase of 31 Kenworth tri-axle dump trucks. That move allows the county to replace an aging fleet of dump trucks that have manual transmissions, which makes it harder to find drivers.

“We’re going to dump the old and aging dump trucks and we’re going to attempt to keep up-to-date trucks that have a good salvage value,” Stephens said. “What we’ve done is what so many people do: You drive them until the wheels fall off and they have no salvage value.

“If we can get them on a 3-year cycle, the cost will be less, the maintenance will be less and the citizens will be able to see a difference because we’ll have more drivers (and) more dump trucks on task on a daily basis,” the commission president said.

After three years, trucks can be sold and the proceeds used on the next set of trucks, Stephens said.

Commissioners were meeting as a committee and did not take official votes on any of the issues. They gather for their official meeting Thursday.