The Anniston City Council could vote next month on a proposal that would take a portion of sales tax revenue from new businesses and give it to Anniston City Schools.
Councilman Ben Little proposed the measure, which would allocate to the schools 20 percent of the sales tax revenue from newly established businesses. The resolution defines newly established businesses as those started after the passage of the measure.
The proposal calls for the money to be placed in a special fund that would be allocated by resolution of the council.
Council members Millie Harris and Jay Jenkins said they recognized the merit of the resolution, but both agreed that the council should fine-tune the wording and ensure that school leaders are accountable for the money spent.
“Putting the money in there without the necessary accountability components in place is not going to make the strides we need to make as a community,” Jenkins said.
Little said he agreed that council was owed more accountability from the school board.
The council voted unanimously to table the measure and will likely to revisit it during the next council meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 6 at City Hall.
Councilman David Reddick said the council simply discussing the additional funding for schools was an amazing moment.
“This has been the best moment of my career as a councilman,” Reddick said.
In other business, the council:
- Voted to conduct an in-person interview with city manager candidate Troy Bell. Earlier this month the council interviewed Jay Johnson, who was most recently city manager of Shelbyville, Tenn. Reddick said during that in-person interview he believed the council had all but chosen Johnson over Bell because Johnson is white and Bell is African-American.
A motion to interview Bell in person passed 4-1 with Harris as the no vote. She said she disagreed because Bell’s only experience as a city manager was for four months in Walla Walla, Wash.
Council members agreed they would vote to hire one of the candidates during their next meeting. The city manager position was left vacant by Kent Davis on July 18. Former finance director Cory Salley has served as interim city manager since.
- Voted to amend the city’s animal control ordinance to add the definition of community caregiver. The new term will help protect good Samaritans who provide food and water for colonies of feral cats. The local nonprofit Saving Animals Volunteer Effort has a program that traps, spays and neuters the cats in such colonies. Before the amendment, those who fed feral cats could have been subject to city laws that require owners of domestic house cats to care for them properly. Harris, who introduced the measure, thanked the council for its unanimous passage of the amendment.
“This is what progressive communities do,” she said.
- Approved a motion to hire the firm Dunn and Max Consulting for professional management and administrative service for the city’s Community Development Block Grant money. The grants help pay for housing improvements, particularly for residents with low income levels. The council on Tuesday agreed to pay the firm $52,500 for the services.
- Voted down a proposal from Little asking Harris to resign as the vice mayor so that the title could be given to Reddick. Reddick said a majority black city like Anniston needs an African-American represented in its executive leadership. According to the 2010 census, Anniston’s population is 51 percent black and 44 percent white.
“All we’re asking for is fairness,” Reddick said.
Both Mayor Jack Draper and Jenkins said they felt it was inappropriate to ask for Harris’ resignation. Little was the only council member to vote for it.
- Failed to pass a proposal from Little to have the city review any buildings built by Munroe+Jenkins Architects between 2013 and 2017. Jenkins, who works at the firm, let his architecture license lapse during those years. Jenkins said he did not earn enough continuing education credits to keep the certification because, at the time, he helped care for his father and sister, who both died of cancer.
Jenkins said all of the work he did during that time was under the supervision of a licensed architect.
The measure failed 2-2, with Reddick and Little voting yes and Draper and Harris voting no. Jenkins abstained from the vote.
- Authorized the fire department to apply for a grant that would pay for new equipment.
- Voted to lower the rental fee of the Anniston Meeting Center from $500 to $300 for the organizers of AnniCon, a comic convention that serves as a fundraiser for the Calhoun County library.
- Voted to have the city attorney draft a letter notifying Norfolk Southern rail company of numerous train cars blocking the roadway at the intersection of F and Noble streets. City ordinances prevent train cars from blocking such a roadway for more than 10 minutes, and Little said some have sat there for days.