Learning that his department has a much bigger task than anticipated with The World Games, Sheriff Mark Pettway today sought $1.2 million from the Jefferson County Commission.
“We’ve had some other departments to pull out, which increased our involvement within The World Games,” Pettway said. “We are here. We’re local. We want to make sure that when everybody comes here, that everybody is safe.
“There were other agencies that, I guess, weren’t able to participate in the way that they thought they were initially going to be able to participate,” the sheriff continued. “When they pulled out, Birmingham contacted us to see if we could add to what we were already doing. We work with Birmingham very closely. We want to make sure that Jefferson County and Birmingham are safe.”
Lieutenant Kerry Morgan said the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was initially assigned to Barber Motorsports Park and John Carroll Catholic High School. As agencies started to pull out, he said, Birmingham Police officials asked JeffCo deputies to take over at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.
“We have four venues just inside the BJCC that we’re responsible for,” Morgan said. “We were planning on that along with Barber’s and John Carroll. Then about a month ago, month and a half ago, they asked us to help them with eight more – Boutwell Auditorium with a supervisor and 15 (deputies) per night. That’s gonna take about three or four supervisors at City Walk because they’re having concerts underneath there. ALEA (Alabama Law Enforcement Agency) pulled out from (helping with) the City Walk.”
The requested $1.2 million would pay for overtime during the 10 days of The World Games with deputies and supervisors working 12-hour shifts. The games begin July 7 and run through July 17.
Commissioners stopped short of putting the request on the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting, requesting more information.
“It was an ask that was very last-minute,” Commissioner Steve Ammons said. “Nobody knew it was coming. (This gives time) for us to kind of pump the brakes a little bit and let’s take a look at it. If we can get some of the data and backup necessary, then we can easily add it on at the commission meeting if it’s necessary. We can do unanimous consent.
“We still have to be fiscally responsible,” Ammons continued. “This county has been in positions before where they weren’t and they got into a lot of trouble. It’s just us making sure we dot our I’s and cross our T’s and make sure we do it all right.”
While commissioners didn’t anticipate the financial request from the sheriff, they knew funds would be requested for juvenile detention.
Monique Grier, director of the G. Ross Bell Youth Detention Center, requested $679,490 in American Rescue Plan Act funds from the panel.
They money would pay the center’s part of the cost for providing personal protection products for the youth, and the director wants to add apps and software to aid young people with their general development and mental health needs. These are tools Grier hopes would decrease the likelihood the youth will return to the center.
Commission President Jimmie Stephens said commissioners are awaiting a memorandum from COVID-spending consultant Witt O’Brien before deciding whether to take action.
Rising Garbage Pickup Costs
Stephens revisited a matter addressed at the last commission meeting, saying there are continuing issues with garbage pickup in unincorporated Jefferson County. The county’s contract with AmWaste was amended to allow the company to deal with rising fuel prices.
Stephens urged residents to be patient.
“People don’t understand that an immediate doubling of their bill and they don’t understand the alternative that if we were to deny that, there will be no service,” the commission president said. “The company would be going out of business. We’re working through our options and our alternatives to make sure that garbage pickup does remain in effect for the incorporated areas of Jefferson County while we negotiate a contract, which will better serve our citizens at a better cost.”
In the meantime, Stephens said a hotline will be established to address resident concerns.
“If you’re going to have to pay that, you want top notch service,” he said. “Right now, there’s nothing we can do about the cost of it. What we’re doing as a commission is engaging to make sure that the management of AmWaste gives you the service which you’re entitled to.”