Jefferson County Commission Approves United Way Funding Despite Concerns

The Jefferson County Commission OK’d paying $500,000 to the United Way at its meeting Thursday, but not before commissioners were assured senior citizens are receiving the “top notch” service they should be getting.

Commissioner Sandra Little Brown asked that approval of the funding be delayed so she could pose questions to United Way officials who were on hand. She expressed concerns about the partnership between the county and the United Way, saying she had received numerous calls about people not getting services they had received before.

“We were led to believe United Way was going to enhance services,” the commissioner said. “These people need to be served. I want to make sure.”

Services to senior citizens had been provided by the Alabama Department of Senior Services, which pulled out of its relationship with Jefferson County. United Way is now administering the senior services.

Commission President Jimmy Stephens said the relationship with United Way was a “value added situation.”

“We, as good stewards of the taxpayer’s money, want to make sure that the value added is real, and we do get to see that,” he said. “We need accountability and we need to be able verify what’s been going on.”

Carla Lawrence, senior vice president of community initiatives for the United Way, said the agency has worked to transition services to its member agencies, finalizing contracts and reaching out to individuals seeking service.

“We are now providing services for all direct service areas of the Area Agency on Aging,” she said.

Stephens called it an evolving process.

“What we need to do now is make sure that the accountability is there and make sure it evolves in the right direction, that the citizens of Jefferson County benefit from this transition and from this evolution,” he said. “Hopefully that’s what we’ll see accomplished. We’ll monitor it to make sure that happens.”

Grayson Valley Rezoning

The commission also conducted a hearing on a request by Grayson Land Company and Warwick Development Company to rezone a parcel on Grayson Valley Parkway for townhouses for senior citizens. Commissioner Joe Knight said he did not think residents of the area had been sufficiently notified of the plans; he moved that the request be denied.

It was, on a 4-0 vote; Brown had left because of a death in her family.

“Actually, that area there is transitioning into all commercial,” Stephens said. “The long-term best use of that property would be the commercialization of it. Not that housing isn’t needed and necessary. There are other areas of the county that would be just as, if not more, appropriate.

“We’re not against the housing,” he said. “We’re against the location of the housing.”