A Publication of The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham

Published August 2004

Observer Corps Report
Jefferson County Commission

Sewer System Expansion: The Commission was scheduled to vote on a sewer system expansion policy on July 27. The vote was delayed four weeks due to public objections because the Commission had not considered input from the Environmental Services Citizens Advisory. This committee was formed in the 1990ís to provide public scrutiny of sewer expansion projects. At the next meeting the Commission approved hiring an engineering firm to evaluate the feasibility of purchasing sewer systems in north Shelby County and Moody and approved building new sewer lines in Fultondale. This was done in advance of finalizing the expansion policy.

Public Relations Firm: On July 27 the Commission approved a contract designating Spina Marketing and Elements Communications Solutions as public relations firm for Jefferson County. The firm will be paid up to $250,000 a year to assist the county in buying TV, radio, newspaper and billboard ads, producing a newsletter and consulting with county officials on public relations issues.

Movie Commission: The Commission approved $60,000 for an agreement with Metropolitan Development Board to fund startup of a Jefferson County Film Commission. Birmingham City Council member Bert Miller later announced that he wants the Birmingham City Council to join with the County to create a regional film commission.

School building license and inspection fees: In July the Alabama State Attorney General issued an opinion that schools donít have to pay local building license and inspection fees. The State has only six building inspectors and no funds to hire additional personnel. Commissioner Buckelew is working on a plan to have local Boards of Education request County inspections. This will avert unnecessary delays in several school expansion projects.

Study on County Government: A study by Auburn Universityís Center for Governmental Services recommended changes to modernize and streamline Jefferson County government. Abolishing or radically changing the Personnel Board was one of the suggestions. The study did not recommend a change in the Commission structure.

Join the Observer Corps!
Members of the LWVGB Observer Corps attend public meetings of government entities in order to gain first-hand knowledge of their agendas and votes. Observers Nancy Ekberg, Ruth Wright and Beverly Nelson gathered information for the article on the Jefferson County Commission. Become an Observer by attending your local City Council or School Board Meetings. Contact Nancy Ekberg for assignment.

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