JeffCo Considers Forgiving Development Group’s Debt, Moving Coroner’s Office to Park

A festively decorated … er, dressed … JeffCo Commission President speaks with Commissioner Jimmie Stephens before a meeting Tuesday. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

A resolution moved to the agenda of Thursday’s Jefferson County Commission meeting would forgive more than $1 million owed to the county from Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority.

The county would also execute a purchase agreement with JCEIDA for land in the Lakeshore Jeffmet Park for the new office space of the Jefferson County Coroner/Medical Examiner. The purchase agreement for the land, valued at $700,000, would not be a cash transaction but would help offset the remaining JCEIDA debt being forgiven.

County Manager Cal Markert called the authority “one of the most successful economic development groups in the state, if not the most.” Created in 1985, JCEIDA currently operates a pair of industrial parks, Jeffmet on Lakeshore Boulevard and one in McCalla.

Markert said the county loaned JCEIDA $4 million in 2005 and $3.97 million has been reimbursed. The authority requested that the remaining debt of $1,042,767, which includes interest, be forgiven. The county manager said his office concurs with that request.

Commissioners were told there are two lots left in the Jeffmet Park on Lakeshore. If the debt is forgiven, proceeds from the sale of those lots would remain with JCEIDA. Markert added that the debt forgiveness would help the authority with a new industrial park up Interstate 65, north of Gardendale.

Deputy County Manager Heather Carter said the land to be acquired by Jefferson County is a smaller lot with “unique challenges” of topography and drainage.

“It allows us to take advantage of a lot that probably otherwise wouldn’t have been developable,” she said. “(It also) puts them (the coroner/medical examiner) in a good location that’s accessible and fits with that development. It’s a win-win all the way around.”

Blue Lake, Sicard Hollow and Cahaba Heights Roundabout

Commissioners also sent a joint services agreement between the county, Vestavia Hills and Birmingham to Thursday’s agenda. That agreement sets the stage for construction of a round-a-bout at the intersection of Blue Lake, Sicard Hollow and Cahaba Heights roads.

Vestavia Hills and the county will be joint financial participants in the project and work will be performed within Birmingham’s jurisdiction. Commissioners expressed disappointment that Birmingham is not participating financially.

“We did ask Birmingham,” Markert said, “and they couldn’t participate. It’s a dangerous intersection and we feel like the best recourse is to get it done.”

Roads and Transportation Director Chris Nicholson said the cost of the project is about $2 million. He said the exact breakdown will be available once the agreement is complete.

“Bottom line, it’s good for the citizens of the area,” Commission President Jimmie Stephens said. “That’s our job.”

Said Markert: “We’re getting healthy (Vestavia Hills) participation to solve the problem for a long time. We wish Birmingham were participating but we can’t keep delaying.”

More Care at Cooper Green

Another resolution would change the eligibility criteria for receiving service at Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority. The change, which would be effective Jan. 1, would use individual income instead of household income as a basis for eligibility.

Cooper Green Mercy Health Services Authority Administrator Laura Hurst said the change could result in about 1,000 more persons being served at Cooper Green.