by Cady Inabinett
Confusion saturated discussions at the Montevallo City Council meeting on June 14, with council members appearing ill-prepared for several of the topics discussed and citizens expressing their dismay with the events of the meeting.
One major issue arose when council members allowed a resolution to die on the floor by failing to move into voting procedure—an event that rarely occurs at council meetings. The resolution in question would allow for Mayor Rusty Nix to enter into negotiations with two potential restaurant tenants to coinhabit the Victory Building space with Interstellar Brewery—City Bowls and Wasabi Juan’s.
Council members appeared confused as to what the resolution addressed, with council member Leila Mitchell asking when negotiations with the tenants had been previously discussed, and council member David King asking for clarification on if the resolution would allow Nix to enter into a lease contract with the potential tenants.
The topic of restaurant tenants was first brought up at the council meeting on May 10—City Clerk Steve Gilbert pointed out that, “this was also part of the negotiations with Interstellar Brewery,” and that, “this is a project that has been ongoing for some time.”
Additionally, Gilbert pointed out that the resolution would only allow for Nix to negotiate terms on the city’s behalf and that “the terms of the lease will be brought before the council because it does require an expenditure of funds or the leasing of city property.”
Citizens expressed dismay over the resolution dying, with Montevallo resident Marcus Herbert saying, “I’m really disappointed in the lack of organization with the council on that vote authorizing Mr. Nix to enter into negotiation. Seems like there’s a lot of confusion on that matter.”
Fellow resident C.P. Pierson expressed similar sentiments, saying he doesn’t understand why questions about this resolution weren’t discussed prior to letting the resolution die. Pierson also asked if the topic would be able to be brought up again at another council meeting.
Nix replied to Pierson by saying that the topic, “will be brought up again.” Nix went on to point out that, “the council package comes out on Wednesday, so, everybody, if you had questions, you had time to review the council package that could’ve been brought to someone’s attention. But that’s why we get the packages out early,” seeming frustrated with the events of the meeting, as well.
Confusion also arose during the council’s discussion of opening the bid process for the construction of a storm shelter on land owned by the Shelby County Board of Education located off of Main Street. The council was voting on a resolution that would allow for the city to open the bidding process to select a contractor to complete the construction of a second storm shelter; repeating a process undertaken in April regarding the construction of a different storm shelter located in Stephens Park.
However, council member Martha Eisenberg began to raise questions about the source of funding for the project—noting a $2 million dollar loan mentioned in paperwork handed to the council. Gilbert pointed out that this loan was taken out by the previous city council and that the Stephens Park storm shelter, approved for construction by the council in May, derived its funding from that loan.
Eisenberg went on to say, “I didn’t realize that two million dollars is what we were getting that out of,” and brought up that the council should be receiving a monthly financial statement. Nix pointed out that city finance statements are provided at city finance meetings.
The motion to open the bidding process passed, with only Eisenberg opposing.
The next City Council meeting will be held Monday, June 26, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s Facebook page. Citizens may also attend the meeting in person at City Hall.