Scales Proposing All Economic Development Spending Go Through Full Jefferson County Commission

Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales. 10.22.19 (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Commissioner Lashunda Scales presented a resolution at the Jefferson County Commission’s committee meeting to bring all spending from the commission’s economic development fund before the full commission.

Scales’ resolution to consider the issue, which passed 2-1 with commissioner Joe Knight voting no, will be considered during Thursday’s commission meeting at the Bessemer Courthouse. Commissioner Steve Ammons, who chairs economic development, and President Jimmie Stephens were absent Tuesday.

“We’d just like to have transparency with the public,” Scales said. “We want to make sure this economic development fund is in the budget, that all items to be spent out of that budget has to be brought before the commission for a vote. As of now that is not the case.”

In another matter, Tyson suggested the commission provide $25,000 to help with the annual Veterans Day Parade through downtown Birmingham.

“It’s never been in the budget,” she said. “I asked (about) that in the budget season. I think we owe it to the veterans and I think it should be a permanent line item.”

Knight, the finance committee chair, said he would take the suggestion under advisement.

Grants Mill Road Widening

Also moved to Thursday’s agenda is an item in which the county would cooperating with the state of Alabama to resurface and realign Grants Mill Road from just north of Interstate 459 at Grantswood Road to Old Leeds Road.

Deputy county manager Cal Markert said the Alabama Department of Transportation and the city of Irondale reached out to the county.

“ALDOT talked to us about taking on a project that Irondale was previously trying to do with federal funds and just couldn’t get it done because of the requirements of the federal funds,” Markert said. “ALDOT has offered a grant of $5.2 million.” It’ll be matched by the county (at) 20 percent.

The project entails turning Grants Mill Road into a four-lane road from I-459 to Old Leeds Road. “That’ll help alleviate a lot of traffic problems coming off 459 coming back into town. We’ve been working on design for eight, 10 months,” Markert said.

Markert also talked about a $5,000 contract that provides county employees a place to report harassment and other wrongs they observe.

“We want to give employees a safe place to let us know information,” he said. “If anybody sees anything wrong, fraudulent, unethical or what they feel to be unfair, we want a place they can go to confidentially give us that information so we can make improvements.”