The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bessemer Council Happenin's

As promised, here is a report on the actions and inactions of the Bessemer City Council planning meeting of September 11, 2007, which followed the adjournment of the regular meeting.

Since I am not a reporter, I may miss a name or two, but I can get the idea across.

There was a presentation by a guy from DHR. They want to build a new building in Bessemer to consolidate services. A 48,000 sq ft building on the site where the building burned at 1st Ave and 20th St. The building will occupy the whole half block from the alley to 1st Ave.. The city owns part of the land and will acquire the rest, possibly by eminent domain, according to the mayor. DHR will pay for the building, but they can not own the building.

Stormwater management. A proposal by Burke-Kleinpeter to manage stormwater was presented. The presenter said among other things they had lots of experience by working with the New Orleans levees for 75 years. Now does that instill any measure of confidence? I don’t think so.

Charles Gargas from Alabama Adventure returned to let the council know that a deadline had passed as far as the $100,000,000 five star hotel/indoor water park project goes. Seems the $12.5 million tax abatement incentive wouldn’t do. The county is contributing 9-11 million, the state 5 million and Southland Entertainment will borrow $74.5 million. But they need the $12.5 mill now, to help secure their loan. All they wanted today was a signal the council and attorney(s) will look at ways to do that. One way is for Bessemer to secure a $12.5 million revenue bond (oh Lord) and do away with the tax abatement, and pay the bond off with property taxes, which Southland estimates will be $843,000 the first year and increase to $970,000 by year 5. Louise Alexander said “A hotel that’s going to be a knockout for the city of Bessemer” and they talked of it bringing conferences and such comparing it to Ross Bridge. May wants to throw a lodging tax increase in to help. They agreed for the Mayor to write a letter indicating the city is still working on it.

The noise ordinance was brought up for the umpteenth time. The DNC (see yesterday’s post) agreed to address the issue at the Sept. 18 meeting.

Linda Baker and Andre Taylor from the McWane Center asked for $2500 toward their general expenses. Over 500 Bessemer students visited the Center last year on field trips and over 3000 visitors identified as Bessemer residents. Also, McWane personnel visit our schools. The council will vote on it next week as expenditure.

Next was a request from BREMSS (Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System) for $5133 to cover costs. They provide the mannequins used for training and other services and local personnel said we needed to give the money and the council will probably do this next week also.

108 LLC has a deal for Bessemer. 108 LLC is Stan Pate, developer. He wants to bring 4 more car dealerships to the city, and he will borrow $3,525,000 to do infrastructure development. The money will be repaid by sales, occupational and property taxes generated by the car dealerships. So it is an incentive, where the city does not have to pay anything. These taxes would not be generated without the development, and they are projected to generate revenue above and beyond the debt service.

This was just a planning meeting so nothing was actually voted on.

And just so you know, our City Council meetings are tame compared to Birmingham’s where yesterday a man stood before the council and told them of a mother who makes her son perform oral sex on her for drugs. Carol Duncan wanted the man to stop speaking but Carole Smitherman allowed him to continue. I just happened to turn the TV on that channel when that was going on. See what we could have if Bessemer had their meetings on TV?

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