Knight Wants Careful Consideration of the County’s Federal COVID-19 Funds

County Manager Tony Petelos. Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

Commissioner Joe Knight gave a friendly reminder at the Jefferson County Commission Committee meeting today that financial resolutions, particularly those related to COVID-19 funds, should be submitted in a timely manner.

County Manager Tony Petelos told commissioners he will bring emergency items to Thursday’s commission meeting related to the Cares Act, which provides federal funds related to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t want to start seeing these things pop up the day before and then try to get them in as new business before we can take a really deep down look at them,” said Knight, the commission’s finance chairman.

“Even though they’ve been through the process, we still have to set an amount, and a budget to see what’s right,” Knight said. “I just don’t want them to start coming in here with five or six here at the last minute, and say, ‘Hey pass these, pass these, pass these.’”

Petelos said he met with the Jefferson County Mayors Association, telling the assembled mayors how their cities can apply to the county for federal funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The county manager said Jefferson County, like the state of Alabama, was allotted Cares funds because it has a population of more than 500,000.

“That put the burden on us to support our cities in Jefferson County,” he said. “Ultimately the county’s responsible for that money, so if the money is not spent correctly, the attorney general’s office, when they do their audit can come back, and say, ‘County, this wasn’t spent correctly. You owe us this money.'”

Petelos said the county took the information that the state gave out and presented it to the assembled mayors. “The application is very similar also to what the state had done,” he said.

Changes in Polling Places

The Board of Registrars presented resolutions to change polling places in several precincts. The commission must approve the sending of resolutions to its meeting but generally doesn’t go against the recommendations of the registrars.

Those changes, which will be in effect for Alabama’s July 14 runoff elections, are:

  • From Woodlawn Library to Crestway Baptist Church.
  • From North Birmingham Library to North Birmingham Recreation Center.
  • From North Avondale Library to Precinct 1220 at Willow Wood Recreation Center.
  • From Avondale Library to Avondale Elementary.
  • From East Ensley Library to Ensley Recreation Center.
  • From Five Points West Library to West End Academy.
  • From Southside Library to UAB’s Bell Wallace Building.
  • Precinct 1080 to the Miles College Gym.
  • From Brighton Senior Center to Brighton Community Center.

Barry Stephenson, chairman of the Board of Registrars, said the change in polling places in Brighton is because of a plumbing problem at the senior center. That change is permanent; the change from the libraries is because branches of the Birmingham Public Library are closed because of the novel coronavirus.

The hope is the libraries will be open and available to be polling places before the presidential election in November, he said.

“If school will start back, they plan to open in the fall, given what we know now,” Stephenson said. “Of course, circumstances can change but they should be hopefully open in the fall so the people that voted at those libraries will then revert back to those libraries for the big November election.”

Moving to the Cloud

During the commission committee meeting, Chief Information Officer Srikanth Karra provided an update saying that Jefferson

Jefferson County Chief Information Officer Srikanth Karra. Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.

County is moving its computer operations to the cloud and leaving its mainframe computer, which has been in use for 30 years.

“It (the mainframe) has served its purpose during this course of time,” Karra said. “But with the technology, leap frogging with all the new things coming up, it is high time that we as a county make sure that we have good systems in place that are easily accessible and have a good disaster recovery in place.”

The county’s technology chief said the move to the cloud will save Jefferson County $500,000 a year as it no longer has to maintain an aging system.