The education supplement the city of Anniston has for years provided Anniston City Schools could drop by more than two-thirds to $100,000, according to city’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.
City Finance Director Cory Salley held a budget presentation for the council during its meeting Tuesday.
Salley said the city will also pay for two police officers assigned to the schools, as it did last year. That and the education supplement come as money on top of the city sales and property taxes typically allocated to the school district.
For the last three years, the supplement has ranged from $290,000 to $340,000. Much of the money goes for new programs like purchasing laptops for each Anniston High School student.
The council took comments from the public after the presentation.
Nathaniel Davis, a former Anniston school board member, called the drop in the education supplement “shameful.”
Overall, the city’s revenues look to increase from $38.4 million in the 2018 fiscal year to $39.2 million for the 2019 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
The council will meet Tuesday, Aug. 28, for a work session to discuss possible amendments to the proposed budget.
The council on Tuesday also authorized the mayor to sign documents transferring 144 acres of land in McClellan from the McClellan Development Authority to the city of Anniston.
City Manager Jay Johnson said after the meeting that 38 of the 144 acres is situated north of Lowe’s and the city is currently in discussion with a firm interested in developing the land.
Other parcels include a section behind Coosa Valley Youth Services, another near the intersection of Alabama 21 and the end of Iron Mountain Road’s planned extension, and another plot that rests in a triangle bordered by the Eastern Bypass, Summerall Gate Road and General Gerald Watson Way.
Councilman Ben Little voted against the measure saying the city could be liable for any environmental contamination on the site.
“We’re about to accept something that could really put this city in financial distress,” Little said.
Mayor Jack Draper said he was satisfied with the environmental assessment performed on the site as part of the deal. Johnson said during a work session before the meeting that site cleared the assessment and no further testing was needed.
Draper also said, “I am satisfied that substantial federal funds remain such that if additional cleanup were required we would have the funds to clean the property up.”
MDA attorney Jason Odom told The Star in May that issues like unexploded ordnance from the former fort would be the responsibility of the U.S. Army even if the city takes the land.
Odom also pointed to the memorandum of agreement between the Army and the predecessor of the MDA after the closure of the fort. That document mentions that MDA or its successors “shall have no obligation to fund, participate in or complete the cleanup of existing hazardous substances pollutants or contamination.”
Little also said the city needs to go to court to see if the entire former Fort McClellan does not in fact belong to the Creek tribe of Native Americans.
Little voiced the same concerns while serving of the council in 2012. He pointed to a 1995 government report as evidence of the claim. But that same report later states that the Creeks ceded the eastern portion of what is now Alabama, including the land that would one day include the fort.
In other business, the council:
— Held the first reading on an amendment to an ordinance concerning animal cruelty to make it unlawful for any person to abandon an animal on any public street, road, alley or public property or “any untenanted residence for more than 24 hours,”
— Recognized the Wiggins Track Team, which recently placed third in the Ernie B. Sims Track Invitational at Florida State University. There were 25 medals earned among Anniston team members.
— Authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation for the extension of Iron Mountain Road to Alabama 21.
— Approved a motion allowing the city to spend up to $17,998 in a project with Alabama Power to relocate four existing power lines within the Iron Mountain road project.
— Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement with Calhoun County for repaving West 13th Street from Bancroft Avenue to Clydesdale Avenue as well as Dimple Lee O’Neal from 13th Street to 16th Street. The city will split the cost of the project with the county. The city’s half will be $55,360.
— Approved a letter of intent from Anniston Aviation that will have the company splitting the cost of repaving the Anniston Airport’s taxiway in front of the hangars. Anniston Aviation, which rents out the hangars, will pay $11,000 toward the project.
“And we say ‘thank you’ to them,” Johnson said of Anniston Aviation.
— Approved an alcohol license for the Girlfriend Gala at the Longleaf Botanical Gardens.