Town Hall Set on Sewer Rate Increases

Jefferson County Commission Lashunda Scales. Jan. 24, 2019. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

Jefferson County commissioners approved funding a town hall meeting on rising sewer rates Thursday, but not without lengthy debate of whether proper procedures were being followed.

The gathering will be in the meeting room at Regions Field on Monday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. Doors will open at 5 p.m.

Commissioner Lashunda Scales in Tuesday’s commission committee meeting proposed spending up to $10,000 from her discretionary funds to hold a town hall. Commission President Jimmie Stephens asked that the proposal be pulled from the consent agenda for separate consideration.

“I’m just saying if we have rules and regulations in order, we need to follow them,” Stephens said. “We need to utilize what we have in place to make sure that the rules of order remain steadfast.”

Scales took offense at the objection, saying that she had consulted county attorney Theo Lawson before submitting the resolution.

“We’re talking about using our (District 1) funds for a countywide message,” Scales said.

Commissioner Steve Ammons said the initial resolution lacked details, which Scales provided at the meeting in Bessemer.

“If we had specifics early on, it would have been better,” he said. “I would have appreciated that.”

Stephens said later there was no backup information on the initial resolution.

“AO (Administrative Order) 18-1 requires a certain set of procedures in order to expend public dollars,” the commission president said. “That procedure wasn’t followed. We received additional information from the meeting today and I did vote for that. But I, in good conscience, vote for it as it proceeded from committee meeting. It did not follow the procedures necessary to follow that AO.”

Following discussion, commissioners approved the resolution.

The county has agreed to fixed sewer rate increases through 2023 as part of its bankruptcy agreement.