By Cady Inabinett
The Montevallo City Council met Monday, March 8, for their regularly scheduled, biweekly meeting. The Council met to discuss the set agenda topic as well as field the concerns of citizens who chose to attend the meeting. The Council met both in person and via Zoom, with the meeting livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page.
The meeting began with the council recognizing several Montevallo High School Athletes, including Montevallo High School football players Cole Dennis, Joseph Anderson, Kial Cottingham, Dylan Campbell and Will Snuggs, and two Montevallo High School volleyball players, Hannah Locks and Olivia Jackson.
Council member Kenny Dukes also took this time to compliment football coach Blake Boren, saying that he believes Boren is “doing an awesome job” and that he hopes to get more businesses in the city to “support our high school and make sure you have the things you need in order to make sure the kids are successful.”
The council also recognized Walt Czeskleba for his 49 years of business on Main Street. Czeskleba has owned and operated Czeskleba TV Service, a TV repair business located on Main Street, since 1972.
The council also discussed a decision made by the Montevallo Development Cooperative District in February of 2020 to donate $125,000 to renovate the Sims House on the University’s campus.
Montevallo resident Robert Hurt addressed the council about the subject, saying that there had been “some rumblings coming around that this board was going to give some cash towards a counseling program over at the University,” and asked the council to “not give them a penny.”
Under the current plan for the project, the renovated Sims House would house the University Outreach and Community center.
There is very little further information currently available, but it was implied at the meeting that free counseling services would be provided to the city through this project. Due to COVID-19 little to no progress has been made so far on the renovations.
However, Hurt believes that opening this service would hurt the businesses of counselors within the city and the surrounding area, saying, “those of us who have professional licenses in this town and the surrounding area do not want to have to compete against Montevallo,” and later that it would, “hurt me and many other people, colleagues of mine.”
The council would discuss this subject in depth later in the meeting.
Council member Martha Eisenberg spoke against the project, saying that the city would receive “no tax revenue from this venture, as we receive no funds at the present from the college,” and that, “The city of Montevallo needs to concentrate on getting our house in order,” instead of providing funding for a project on the University’s campus.
Mayor Rusty Nix went on to point out that “the way that the MDCD is set up, they do not have to come to the council” in order to approve their projects.
Instead, MDCD has an allocated amount of tax revenue that they can spend on projects.
Nix suggested that the council could “get with our legal counsel” to determine the steps they would have to take to ensure that MDCD projects have to be approved by the City Council.
Council members Sonya Swords and David King both spoke in favor of this idea, with Swords saying that she believes, “there should be some checks and balances put in place,” and King saying he believes that the council should “have some influence on how that tax revenue is spent.”
Council member Kenny Dukes was the only member to speak directly in favor of the project, saying that he was briefed on the project and that he believes, “the services that are going to be offered would be very impactful.”
Dukes did go on to say that he was unsure about donating $125,000, but that he didn’t believe the topic should be made “as big of a taboo as it’s seemed to be made.”
The council also discussed and approved an agreement between Montevallo Police Department and the Alabama Drug Enforcement Task Force—a program run by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Bureau of Investigation with the purpose of assisting local police departments with narcotics cases and investigations.
According to Montevallo Police Chief Jeremey Littleton, the agreement with the Drug Task Force would give the police department more resources to put towards narcotics investigations and would not cost the police department anything other the cost to pay the investigator who would be working on the task force.
Littleton went on to say that the agreement would “give us a proactive approach to make sure Montevallo is not a safe haven for people selling narcotics.”
The council passed this motion unanimously.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, March 22, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall, however there will be limited seating and social distancing protocols put in place.