US Supreme Court Takes a Pass, Won’t Hear Challenge of JeffCo Bond Refinancing

Oct. 3, 2017 – Jefferson County Commissioners reported Tuesday that the U.S. Supreme Court had opted not to hear the latest challenge to the county’s refinancing of bonds backed by the 1-cent sales tax.

“The Supreme Court denied even hearing it,” Commissioner Joe Knight said during committee meeting. “It’s over. It’s done. The Supreme Court said, ‘We don’t even think it worth hearing.’”

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the Alabama Supreme Court already had ruled in favor of the commission.

“This was just another affirmation of the legality and the course that the County Commission took,” he said.

The lack of action left intact the waterfall payout from the refinancing, in which bondholders are paid first, then the county and then school systems. Last week, an initial distribution of $69 million from the refinancing was doled out to public school systems in Jefferson County.

Going forward, the anticipated annual distribution from the sales tax will be $18 million.

Zoning Questions

The commission also discussed a pair of zoning matters, including a request by Sumiton Timber Company to change the zoning of a parcel on Snowville Brent Road in Dora for an intermodal facility for a waste management company.

The greatest concerns are about odors from the site.

“Trucks are hauling waste in here from New Jersey and offloading it at a center in west Jefferson County and transporting it to a dump in Adamsville,” Commissioner Joe Knight said. “That is quite concerning that other states would choose to dump here in Alabama. I don’t like it. I don’t think it’s fair, but it is legal at this time.”

Knight said commissioners will speak with state legislators and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management on the matter.

“I think a state’s waste should stay in their own state and dispose of it how they wish, which is what we do,” Knight continued. “We’ve had a long history of sewer issues here. We don’t need any more. We’ve been dumped on enough, in my opinion.”

The issue about rezoning part of the property for an intermodal facility will go before the commission in its official meeting Thursday.

Also on Thursday’s agenda will be a request to rezone estate property in the Altadena area to institutional-2. The owner proposes to build an assisted living facility where as many as 16 persons would live in each of the two houses on those properties, at Altadena Road and Cahaba River Road.

Nearby residents filled the commission chamber recently to make their objection to the matter clear.

At that meeting, Commissioner David Carrington set up another meeting with residents and said many of them favored a compromise with the developer.

Carrington said he has not made up his mind how he will vote on the matter.

Tuesday’s committee meeting also included discussion of the county’s mainframe computer system.

“The mainframe is antiquated. They don’t make it any more,” Stephens said. “We’re transitioning from that old mainframe system to a more cloud-based system.”

The commission president said that transition should be complete by mid-2018 or 2019.