Jefferson County Commission

JeffCo Plans for New Coroner’s Office as It Forgives Development Authority’s Debt

County Manager Cal Markert, right, speaks to the county commission as County Attorney Theo Lawson listens.

The Jefferson County Commission on Thursday forgave about $1 million of debt owed by a development authority, setting the stage for the county coroner’s office to move to that authority’s industrial park.

County Manager Cal Markert said Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority developed the Jefferson Metropolitan Park Lakeshore industrial park on Lakeshore Parkway. One of its three remaining lots was targeted as the new home of the coroner’s office.

“Instead of paying for it, we’re forgiving the debt,” Markert said. “It’s all ours anyway. We loaned them the money. They bought all the property, set it up, developed the whole industrial park and created a tremendous number of jobs.”

The county loaned JCEIDA $4 million in 2005 and $3.97 million has been reimbursed. The county agreed to forgive the remaining debt of $1,042,767, which includes interest.

“They already paid almost $4 million of the $4 million we loaned them,” the county manager said. “There was another $1 million in interest so instead of us paying for the lot, we forgave the debt.”

The county coroner’s office is currently in the Cooper Green Mercy Health Services building. It must have a new home as space was not allotted for that office in the new Cooper Green that’s under construction.

“We’ve gotta get the coroner out of Cooper Green Hospital because we’re building the new hospital. Once that’s finished, the coroner’s got to be gone,” Markert said. “We’re in a time crunch, too, but you just can’t find property in Birmingham for that kind of price.”

Mike Bolin joined the Christmas fashion show as he wore a necklace of Christmas lights at Thursday’s meeting of the Jefferson County Commission. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw)

Markert said JCEIDA will reinvest the money being forgiven. “They will use that money – without having to pay it back – to reinvest and create more industry and more jobs. That’s the real benefit.”

Sewer Debt

In other business, the commission passed a resolution that authorizes the county to issue its Series 2024 Sewer Revenue Warrants.

“The proceeds of the Series 2024 sewer revenue warrants will be used to redeem and retire the county’s outstanding Series 2013 sewer revenue warrants,” County Attorney Theo Lawson said in a prepared statement. “Today’s resolution also authorizes the president of the commission to select and confirm the proposed members of the underwriting syndicate for the issuance of the Series 2024 warrants and names Raymond James as bookrunner for the transaction.”

Lawson added that Citi is not included in the resolution as a proposed member of the underwriting syndicate, “based on Citi’s announcement of its intention to exit the municipal market in the first quarter of 2024.”

Added Markert: “That is one of the final steps. Interest rates are extremely low. We’re in a really, really good spot right now at this moment. We’re super excited.”