Tag: Jefferson County Commission

Scales Opens the Windows of the County’s Committee Meeting Room

Citizens of Jefferson County could only imagine the discussion and debate that happened when commissioners assembled for their committee meetings.

The five representatives meet in a board room around the corner from their offices with their respective staffs, the county attorney, the county manager and his staff and perhaps a few others.

But Tuesday’s commission committee meeting ushered in a new age for Jefferson County citizens, who were given a peek inside the proceedings courtesy of Commissioner Lashunda Scales.

The commission president pro tem brought livestreaming to the business of Jefferson County as a member of her staff broadcast the committee meeting via the internet. She promises to continue to practice with internet broadcasts of future committee meetings and full commission meetings. Read more.

Commissioner Questions Spending for Hospital Move if Land Is to Be Annexed

Jimmie Stephens said “it wouldn’t be right” for Jefferson County to spend money preparing for the move of UAB West Hospital to McCalla only to have the hospital annexed by neighboring Bessemer.

“It wouldn’t be right for the county to expend all those dollars on infrastructure in unincorporated Jefferson County for them to reap those benefits and then go away,” Stephens said following Thursday’s Jefferson County Commission meeting.

“We want to work with our municipalities,” the commission president said. “If the CEO of UAB West wants to go into Bessemer, that’s fine. But they should do the infrastructure. If you do the infrastructure with the county, it should be in the (unincorporated part of the) county.”

Stephens said there’s no news concerning plans for the new hospital. “It’s still planning to be moved,” the commission president said. “We haven’t gotten any drawings. We haven’t gotten any of the infrastructure work that will be done.” Read more.

Economy Likely to Be the Topic of the Year for Jefferson County Commission

Economic development is likely to be a primary focus for Jefferson County and the County Commission during 2019. The county hit a mother lode, or at least the offshoot of one, during 2018 with Amazon and DC Blox announcing they are establishing operations in Bessemer and North Titusville, respectively. Look for Jefferson County to continue prospecting for more golden nuggets in 2019. Read more.

More What to Watch in 2019

By Land, Water or Air, Pollution Will Be a Controversial Topic Throughout the Year

Environmental issues have made headlines throughout 2018, and 2019 promises to be no different.
Decisions will be made that affect the cleanliness of the state’s waters, air and land. Issues that will affect recycling, coal mining and solar, nuclear and hydropower generation also are looming on the horizon. Here are a few of the issues to watch in 2019.

Gas Tax Is a Top Priority in 2019 Legislative Session

A gasoline tax increase to fund road improvements is expected to be a major topic of the 2019 Alabama legislative session. Legislators also are expecting several hundred million more dollars to spend in the education budget and will be debating raises, a child literacy program and other education improvements. Other issues include funding improvements in prisons and a possible lottery proposal. Read more.

Jefferson County Rebranding Contract Must Be Altered to Give Work to Minority Companies

Lashunda Scales wanted to make one thing perfectly clear. The president pro tem of the Jefferson County Commission was not “playing the race card” as she debated a proposed contract on rebranding the county.

Scales’ concern centered on a contract county manager Tony Petelos presented for a professional services agreement with Big Marketing and Communications. The $203,500 contract did not spell out how historically under-utilized business enterprises would be represented in this agreement.

“Let me say this so this doesn’t turn into a race card conversation,” Scales said Tuesday. “If it were someone white, if it were someone of any other race, if there is not inclusion, I’m going to ask the question as to why. The county makeup is of all races of people, all classes of people. If it does not reflect that, I’d like for us to work within the same vein and cooperative spirit to make it right.” Read more.

Jeffco Commissioner Stephens Was Rooting for the Other Side in Bet Over Road Construction

Jimmie Stephens admitted that he wanted to lose the bet.

The president of the Jefferson County Commission had a friendly wager that work to widen Morgan Road in Bessemer wouldn’t be underway by December 2018.

“I have seen the holdups,” Stephens said following Monday’s commission committee meeting. “I felt it was a bet that was easy for me to make but it is one I was hoping I would lose. Unfortunately, I didn’t.”

Plans to widen Morgan Road from its current two-lane alignment to four lanes and a turn lane have been two decades in the making. Stephens said 14,000 to 18,000 cars travel that road per day, either headed north of Interstate-459 or south of the interstate. Read more.

Jefferson County Commission Approves Workforce Development Funds for Lawson

Sheila Tyson called a pair of rental assistance agreements “a Band-Aid on a bad wound” as the newly installed Jefferson County Commission met for the first time on Monday.

Tyson and her fellow commissioners had heard two items during their committee meeting that allotted money to pay the rent for a couple of Jefferson County households to keep each from becoming homeless.

Tyson, who chairs the commission’s Community Services and Workforce Development Committee, said poor persons in the county need training so they can provide for themselves.

During their meeting, commissioners also approved $75,000 from the general fund for Lawson State Community College for workforce development and job training programs. Read more.

New Jefferson County Commissioners Pledge to Work on Behalf of Residents

The latest edition of the Jefferson County Commission took office Wednesday with a swearing in ceremony in the morning and a meeting in the afternoon to set its organization in place.

When the day was done, Jimmie Stephens was again president of the commission and Lashunda Scales, who, like Sheila Tyson, made the move from the Birmingham City Council, was elected president pro tem. Read more.

Who Has Final Say Over Jefferson County Money Matters?

Jefferson County commissioners and Jefferson County Tax Collector J.T. Smallwood have different ideas of who must OK contracts set up by Smallwood.

Commissioner David Carrington said Thursday any contract involving Jefferson County government income and expenses must be approved by the commission. Smallwood, an elected official, said he doesn’t work for the commission.

“Department heads answer to the commission. I answer to the voters of Jefferson County every six years,” Smallwood said. “We don’t work for the commission. Now some of the employees in my office do. I guess that’s a little different story.”

Smallwood is running against Joe Knight to represent District 4 on the commission on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. Read more.

County Could Decide on Balanced Budget, Revamped Money for Distressed Cities Thursday

The Jefferson County Commission put a balanced budget on its Thursday agenda as it assembled in committee on Tuesday, putting a framework in place that could result in more road and infrastructure work in distressed cities.

The budget would continue to provide each commissioner with $250,000 in grants to go to their districts. In the new budget, $150,000 would be set aside for each to use on infrastructure and roads within his or her district. A city receiving aid would pay an as yet undetermined percentage of the project; an 80-20 match is among the ideas under consideration.

The remainder of the money, $100,000 per commissioner, would be earmarked for use on 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Read more.