May 2, 2017 – The Jefferson County Commission Tuesday agreed to transfer $10,000 from its economic development fund to the Jefferson County Economic & Industrial Development Authority to acquire land for county development.
“We’ve got a good news-bad news story,” Commissioner David Carrington said. “The good news is we have a lot of prospects and a lot of companies relocating into Jefferson County. The bad news is we’re running out of land.”
The commissioner cited a 60-acre parcel that is part of proposals for four projects.
“If we get two of the four, or four of the four, we’re going to have to scramble,” he said. “We need to acquire more land expeditiously.
“When we look at land, we’re looking at jobs,” Carrington continued. “Is it critical for us to get more jobs in the community? Absolutely.”
Also during the meeting, Finance Director John Henry told commissioners that bids had been submitted in response to a request for proposal on the sale of bonds.
Commissioners had sought a state law revising an earlier county sales tax for schools so they could refinance the warrants at a lower price and divide the remaining money from the tax more broadly. A circuit judge struck down that law, but last month the Alabama Supreme Court upheld it.
“It is a big day. Our underwriting team is in place, our financial advising team is in place,” Commission President Jimmie Stephens said. “We are well on the way to refunding the school warrants and to take the money out of the hands of the creditors and put it in the hands of the citizens of Jefferson County.”
The commission president said the county is looking to go to market in June.
“We’re going to do this as quickly as possible,” he said. “There will be no grass growing under our feet. This has been a long time coming.”
Stephens said the first money to come from the sale of bonds will go to paying the county’s debt. After that, money will be distributed to various entities, including school systems and the Birmingham Transit Authority.
Meals on Wheels, Other Business
Commissioner Joe Knight said he had received calls from some Meals on Wheels volunteers who said they were limited in how many meals they could deliver. United Way is handling that service in Jefferson County. County manager Tony Petelos said the county has reached its maximum in residents it can serve.
“That’s something we need to follow up on,” Knight said, “because we don’t want to contract these services if we can help it. For a lot of these people, this is the only contact that they have. It’s a meal, a hot meal, probably the only meal they get. And also it’s that human contact.”
Commissioner Sandra Little Brown echoed that sentiment.
“I’m concerned,” she said. “I want to make sure our seniors are receiving the utmost care.”
Also during the meeting:
- Commissioners signed off on the county’s participating in establishing a 16-mile walking trail across the northern portion of the county, which is a collaborative effort with the Freshwater Land Trust. They agreed to contribute no more than $25,000.
- Stephens received assurance from the Roads and Transportation Department that it will install a requested caution light in West Jefferson because of tow truck traffic across from the municipal complex on Flattop Road. He said the request was made four years ago but had not been fulfilled.