City Council takes exception to state legislation

The Demopolis City Council will wait two weeks before determining whether or not to pass a resolution at the request of the League of Municipalities.

If passed, Resolution 2013-06 would be the city’s official opposition to House Bill 257 and Senate Bill 217, legislation that seeks to change the way in which cities enforce business licenses on those who own residential rental properties.

“Another example of the state government pushing stuff down to the cities,” Demopolis Mayor Mike Grayson said during the meeting. “Frankly, I don’t understand the rationale on this. It would not be a huge amount of money to Demopolis, but it would reduce the amount of rental licenses that we get.”

The City of Demopolis currently charges a fee of $112 for a business license for individuals operating between one and nine residential rental properties. The fee for those who operate 10 or more residential rental properties is $212.

Were HB 257 and SB 217 to be signed into law, cities would no longer be able to base the business license fee for such properties on the number of properties being operated by the license holder.

“It appears these two bills are saying they’re only going to charge one flat fee,” Councilman Charles Jones said.

“I personally feel it is a power that needs to be held within individual communities,” Councilman Harris Nelson stated.

The council will review a resolution at the behest of the League of Municipalities that would officially declare Demopolis’ opposition to the legislation on the grounds of municipal rights.

The basis of this resolution is, in essence, the City Council of Demopolis is opposing HB 257 and SB 217,” Grayson said. “To me, the rub is, don’t they have more things to be concerned about in Montgomery than trying to set policy for various cities? Again, this is a state intrusion into how municipalities do things.”

Other council business covered Thursday saw the city’s governing body reappoint Diane Brooker, Stephen Morgan and Freddie Armstead Jr. to the Industrial Development Board. The council also voted to appoint Cemex head man Gary Pinault to the IDB spot left vacant by Travis Burnham.

The council is set to vote at its next meeting to fill the open spot on the Board of Adjustments. The nominees are Sylvia Malone, Shawn Malone and Scott Stapp.

The council will attempt to make nominations for the open Cemetery Board position at its next meeting.

Ben Sherrod approached the council to seek funding for the expansion of the Christmas on the River warehouse.

“I’ve been involved in COTR for a couple of years,” Sherrod told the council. “When I first got involved, we were building the floats in my yard. Since then, the city has built the building that we are using now and we have outgrown it.”

Sherrod explained that he has taken out bids for the project and estimates that $65,000 would be enough to complete the expansion.

“I think last year you saw probably as good of a parade as you are going to see in the State of Alabama,” Sherrod said. “When we do build (floats), we need a place to store them. We can only add another 25 feet to the building. But what I’m talking about is, on the back of the building, putting a lean-to on it to store some of the floats that are not completely paper.”

“Does the Christmas on the River committee have any money that they are going to contribute to the building,” Jones asked Sherrod, who was unable to speak for the Chamber of Commerce.

“I think it is something that needs to be done, but finding the money is going to be the question,” Nelson stated. The council took no action on the matter.