With Its Finances Tight, Fairfield Seeks Help From Jefferson County to Protect Its Residents

Sandra Little Brown (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Less than a month after Brighton’s mayor and a council member asked the Jefferson County Commission for help, another distressed western city is seeking aid.

This time, the city in trouble is Fairfield. Officials from that city told commissioners George Bowman and Sandra Little Brown recently that they need help protecting their citizens during the next three months, and they were worried about being able to make it through their next pay period.

Bowman said Sheriff Mike Hale, who was in that meeting, said it would take $400,000 in additional payroll and overtime for his officers to cover western Jefferson County, including Fairfield.

“An old boss of mine said, ‘If money is your problem, money is your only solution,” Bowman said. “Right now, revenue is the problem in Fairfield.”

Bowman said Fairfield has reached “crunch time” and is seeking help. The difference, commissioners noted, is the Fairfield mayor and City Council are at odds over who is in charge.

“They’ve got to get their act together so we can help them solve this problem,” Brown said. “The mayor and the council have some problems making decisions together. That’s the real problem; they’ve got to come together.”

Commissioners said they are willing to help Fairfield come up with a plan to deal with its situation, provided the mayor and council draft a joint resolution seeking help.

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the commission is committed to improving the quality of life for all citizens regardless of whether they live in a municipality.

“But we have to have a partner, a willing partner, to move forward and work together to improve the quality of life,” Stephens said. “The Jefferson County Commission is a resource and it’s a good resource. But in order to utilize that resource, we have to operate through resolution … from those that are asking for help.”

Stephens said commissioners can devise a plan based on the county’s experience in dealing with financial shortfalls.

Closing the Door on New York Poop

A request from Sumiton Timber Company to rezone its property on Snowville Brent Road in Dora piqued the attention of commissioners. They wanted to be sure the requested zoning didn’t open the door to more waste being railed into the area from New York.

The commission in October denied a zoning request from Sumiton Timber Company and Sky Environmental to change the zoning on its 4-acre property that would have permitted bringing waste in.

“I want that door locked, shut and bolted,” Stephens said. “I’m not a little cautious. I am very cautious and I don’t stand alone. We all want to make sure the New York poop stays in New York. We don’t want to hinder Sumiton Timber from being able to earn a living.”