League logoTHE VOTER
A Publication of The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham

Published February 2007

A Different Option for County Government

Shelby Co. Manager Alex Dudchock and Commissioner Ted CrockettAt the LWVGB January meeting, Shelby County Commissioner Ted Crockett and Shelby County Manager Alex Dudchock discussed the governing organization that helps manage the fastest growing county in Alabama.

The nine Shelby County Commissioners serve as a board of directors to set policy, oversee county finances and make appointments.  Reporting to the Commission are the County Attorney, County Engineer and the County Manager, who functions as the county’s chief executive officer.

The position of County Manager was made possible when the Alabama State Legislature approved a measure allowing Shelby County limited home rule. Alex Dudchock, who was already employed as the county's personnel director, assumed the position in 1993. Since instituting this form of management, Shelby County has paid off its debts and eliminated the one-cent sales tax used to finance the repayment.

With an estimated 171,465 residents in 2005, Shelby County has approximately 26% of the population of Jefferson County; however, for the five year period from 2000 to 2005, the Shelby County population growth rate was 20% higher than Jefferson County.  (Jefferson County census estimates showed a population decline of -0.7% for that period.)

The LWVGB has supported instituting a county manager form of government in Jefferson County since 1985.  Before the November 2005 election, the three Republicans on the Commission (Bettye Fine Collins, Jim Carns and Bobby Humphryes) supported changing to a county manager form of government in their campaigns. The Birmingham News has published numerous articles, both from citizens and News editorial staff, calling for a county manager.  In his column of January 28 headlined "Big changes must begin with power," local news reporter John Archibald wrote about the LWVGB meeting on this topic. 

It is important for us to make clear to our elected officials that we expect action to bring about the organizational change necessary to hire a county manager for Jefferson County. Inside this issue of The Voter, you will find an open letter to our Jefferson County Commissioners. To make our collective voice heard, we ask that each League member living in Jefferson County contact the County Commissioner for your district and Bettye Fine Collins, as Commission President, about this issue.  Contact information for each commissioner is included in this issue. We can all stand together to make a difference for Jefferson County!

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