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

Published February 2007

An Open Letter to the Jefferson County Commission

February 21, 2007

Dear Commissioners Collins, Langford, Smoot, Carns and Humphryes:

The League of Women Voters of Greater Birmingham has supported instituting a county manager form of government for Jefferson County since 1985.  We were encouraged when Commissioners Collins, Carns and Humphryes made hiring a county manager part of their campaigns for the November 2006 elections.

Last spring Commissioner Carns, while serving in the state legislature, sponsored a bill that would require Jefferson County to hire a county manager.  He told The Birmingham News in January 2006, “I represent Jefferson and Shelby County as a state legislator.  I watch both county commissions work.  I see the benefits of the Shelby County manager versus the lack of those benefits for Jefferson County.”  We understand that Commissioner Carns is supporting a similar bill in this legislative session.

We agree with Commissioner Carns’ assessment.  Since hiring a county manager to oversee routine county functions, Shelby County has paid off debt and made major infrastructure improvements without borrowing.  This month the Shelby County Commission approved comprehensive measures to govern its growth.  Conversely, Jefferson County’s debt load balloons, developers exert undue influence over zoning decisions and our county operations are under scrutiny of federal investigations into bribery and corruption.  We believe the county manager form of government is a better way of protecting the people’s interest.

We thank you for your service to Jefferson County and seek your input on how we can assist in bringing about this change to our county government structure.  We look forward to working with you to benefit this great county and its citizens.

Yvonne Brakefield
President, LWVGB

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