A property lien became a point of contention between Anniston City Councilman David Reddick and other members of the council Tuesday night.
The councilman accused City Manager Jay Johnson of leaving off the council meeting’s agenda an item that would see the council vote to remove a lien on property at 1805 W. 21st Street and forgive the city loan in full.
Reddick said the council had discussed the lien at the last council work session and agreed to vote to forgive the loan this week. Johnson said that council members had questions about whether such a move was legal during their last meeting, held April 16, so it was not added to the agenda for a vote Tuesday.
Councilman Jay Jenkins said he was the one who raised those questions during that meeting, and that he hadn’t seen answers to his questions.
“I didn’t know we were looking for answers,” Reddick responded.
The discussion that followed saw Jenkins and Councilwoman Millie Harris, along with Mayor Jack Draper, assert alongside Johnson that the issue had not been resolved during that meeting, and no agreement had been made to place it on the agenda for a vote.
However, video from The Star’s Facebook live stream that night showed that the council had, in fact, expected a vote to occur.
“Since it’ll give us time to digest this, let’s put this on the agenda for May 21st and then we'll vote that afternoon,” Draper said at about the one hour and three minute mark in the video, which is still on The Anniston Star Facebook page.
The statement came at the end of a brief discussion during the April 16 work session in which Reddick explained the loan and introduced the homeowner, who wants to sell the property but can’t because of the lien.
Mary Motley, community development coordinator for the city, said Tuesday night that the council can choose to forgive some loans, and this one appeared to be eligible. She also said that more properties had similar liens.
Jenkins said that might establish a precedent that may lead to more loans being forgiven, something the council would need to deliberate.
Reddick said he didn’t mind holding the vote later, but he believed he should have been told the plan had changed from the last meeting, held more than a month prior.
“If the item that I was told and we agreed would go to the vote isn’t going to the vote, I thought it would be only fair and respectful to me to make me aware of the issue,” Reddick said.
Mayor Jack Draper reminded Reddick that the whole council received an agenda the week before. Reddick admitted he had seen the agenda Friday morning, which Jenkins questioned.
“Have you brought it up since you saw the agenda? Or is right now in this public meeting the first time you brought it up?” Jenkins asked.
“This is the first chance I had to talk to Mr. Johnson,” Reddick stated.
Reddick asked Clay Gresham, who films the council work sessions for local television, for a video copy of the last meeting so he could prove the council had agreed to put the item to a vote.
“If we show you where we said that, you owe me an apology,” Reddick said to Johnson. Draper said he too would owe an apology, as he did not remember the meeting going that way.
During its meeting, the City Council:
— Approved the appointment of Richard Bell to the Anniston Main Street board and Ralph Bradford to the Public Building Authority.
— Authorized a bid to Bradshaw & Pitts, an Anniston construction firm, to build out the Regional Fire Training Center (on McClellan Boulevard, in the old Marvin’s building) for about $564,000. The money will install classrooms and lab rooms in about a third of the currently empty building.
— Approved economic incentives for Noland Health Services to construct a building for its Anniston location, which is currently housed in the Regional Medical Center.
— Ordered the vacation of alleys A and B on West 12th and West 11th streets and Gurnee and Moore avenues for government work at the future federal courthouse site, the current location of city hall. Another resolution vacated the alley running north to south between Front Street and Constantine Avenue.
— Authorized the city manager to apply for money from the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Bureau that will pay improvements to the Anniston Metropolitan Airport. Another resolution employed Garver LLC, an engineering firm from Arkansas, to perform an analysis of the airport runway. Johnson said cracks are appearing and expanding in the pavement, which might need to be repaved altogether.