Jefferson County Commission

Political Suicide: Jefferson County Commission President Opposes Extending Trash Contract

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens. Aug. 10.2020. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said he would be committing political suicide if he agreed to extend the contract of Advanced Disposal, the company that provides single-family residential garbage and trash services in unincorporated Jefferson County.

David Denard, the director of Environmental Services, began his report at Tuesday’s Jefferson County Commission Committee meeting with a resolution to renew the county’s contract with Advanced Disposal for a year. Denard explained that the action would keep the contract in place until April 2021.

Stephens said he gets complaints three times a week about Advanced.

“That’s unacceptable,” the commission president said. “We cannot in good faith as a county commission expect our management staff to continue to say, ‘We’re going to review it one more time and give them one more chance.’ This needs to be a policy decision and our people expect more. No, they demand more. They demand more from us on something like this.”

Denard said another company, Waste Management, was set to take over Advanced Disposal. “That’s still kind of on hold,” he said.

Denard and deputy county manager Cal Markert said the proposed extension would provide time to seek a replacement company.

“Once we change vendors, it takes a lot of time to get all that set up, get the carts out,” Markert said.

Stephens was unmoved. “If I vote for that then I might just as well sign my death warrant,” he said, citing the complaints he has received.

Commissioners decided to push back the matter for two weeks. “In two weeks if it comes back, it will have to probably be voted on again,” Stephens said. “I can’t see anything changing in two weeks.”

Commissioners opened their committee meeting by moving their commission meeting from 9 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Wednesday. That schedule change allows all five commissioners to be present for the meeting; Commissioner Joe Knight will be in Montgomery on Thursday for the meeting of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

Commissioner Sheila Tyson questioned a resolution for a three-year contract with Warren Averett to audit the county’s finances. She moved that the resolution be changed to a one-year contract. Her motion died for lack of a second.

Commissioners sent a number of community infrastructure grants to Wednesday’s agenda, including $10,000 for the Antioch Fire Department. That action came despite that fire department being based in Tuscaloosa County.

“They’re building a station on the county line that’s going to service the people down on the river in Jefferson County,” Stephens said. “I was a little concerned about that, so I ran that by the county attorney’s office to make sure that it was a proper expenditure of county funds, and of course it was.

“It’s to service the Providence area,” the commission president continued. “I’ve been trying to get fire service down there since I’ve been in office. I would say it was underserved but it hasn’t been served at all.”

Also on Wednesday’s agenda is a resolution to hire Birchfield Penuel & Associates to design a new Jefferson County animal control facility on Lakeshore Parkway in Birmingham. The professional services contract would be for $7,500.