Angela Dixon, the chief financial officer of Jefferson County, was quick to acknowledge the help she got from the county’s budget office in delivering the county’s largest ever budget.
“These ladies are the gems of Jefferson County,” Dixon said of Lene Wormley and Marilyn Shepard. “They have gotten the distinguished budget award for four years straight, and it’s only two people in the office.
“The amount of work that they do on behalf of the county is just to be celebrated,” the CFO continued. “I couldn’t be prouder to work with these young ladies.”
The county commission passed the 2024 fiscal budget Tuesday. It was the county’s largest ever at a total of $1,264,956,131. The operating and capital budget alone is $1,003,221,927.
Joe Knight, the chair of the commission’s finance committee, compared the budget to the process of making sausage. “We ground it out,” Knight said.
Lashunda Scales chimed in, saying, “I think (this budget) speaks to our deliberate intentions of really trying to provide good quality services and to make sure our employees are supported as it relates to this particular budget.”
The commission meeting included an agreement to turn the landmark Hallmark Farm property into an agriculture center. Knight recounted that the county and the city of Warrior formed a cooperative and purchased the 567-acre property in northern Jefferson County near exit 280 of Interstate 65.
“The cooperative has now entered into an agreement – subject to due diligence – with the Alabama Rural Economic Center Inc. to transform this iconic piece of property into a first-class Agriculture Center,” Knight read from a prepared statement. “AREC is a subsidiary of ALFA Corporation.
“We are looking forward to working with ALFA in this venture,” Knight continued, “as it will be a catalyst for great things to come in northern Jefferson County.”
“We are excited about the prospect of moving forward with the Alabama Farm Center at Hallmark Farm,” Alabama Farmers Federation and Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell said on the Alfa website. “The location was chosen after a competitive site selection process throughout Alabama. Jefferson County is working cooperatively with the Federation to bring a state-of-the-art agriculture and event center to the heart of the Southeast.”
Parnell said the Farm Center would create jobs, enhance tourism and bolster the economy.
“It’s been more than 70 years since Alabama invested in a regional agricultural center,” he said. “Current facilities are outdated and can no longer meet the needs of Alabama. We are excited to be part of the Alabama Farm Center, which will serve our residents and attract visitors from across the country.”
Brasfield & Gorrie Expansion
The agenda included a resolution to provide incentives for Brasfield & Gorrie to add a second building to its headquarters, adding 70 full-time employees earning an average salary of at least $74,000.
The county entered a project development agreement with the company, providing monetary incentives of as much as $190,000 contingent on the company developing, constructing, installing and equipping the new 28,515-square-foot building.
The commission also approved an incentive package for a development at Oxmoor Road and Cobb Street in Homewood. The incentive will not exceed $340,000, which will be derived from the county’s 1% general sales tax generated from El Barrios’s and Paramount, restaurants that will operate at the development where the former Econo Lodge hotel was located.
“The project (hotel) is being demolished as we speak right now,” said Tom Walker of Village Creek Development. “We’re excited about that. We’ll have more to announce shortly. But we are pleased that the project is under demolition and we’re very thankful for the county and working with us as a partner to provide incentives to help make the project feasible.”