Smiths Station City Council Honors Student, Discusses Finances in January Meetings

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BY KENDYL HOLLINGSWORTH

KENDYLH@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

SMITHS STATION  — 

As the new year moves forward, Smiths Station City Council approved new business related to projects and city employees, set a sales tax holiday and heard the results of its annual audit during its January 2023 meetings.

At the Jan. 24 meeting, Eric Tydings of audit agency Robinson, Grimes & Company, P.C., presented a “good, clean opinion” for the city’s fiscal year 2022 finances.

According to Tydings, the city had an $800,000 increase in cash compared to the previous year. Operating expenses came out to about $2.8 million compared to the previous year’s $1.7 million, which he attributed in part to the city’s contracts with Fort Benning.

“What we do is we rely heavily on you guys to make sure that the council continues to monitor the numbers and hold the Accounting Department accountable to make sure you’re spending as you should,” Tydings told the council. 

City Clerk Morgan Bryce presented the general fund budget report for December 2022. The city’s total gross income was about $450,000, and total expenses were about $186,000. The net income was about $264,000. The environmental fund budget for the previous quarter saw a net income of about $17,000.

Smiths Station will also join dozens of communities across the state in observing the Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday from Feb. 24 through 26.

At the Jan. 24 meeting, the council approved an amendment to Section VII of the Solid Waste Ordinance, which concerns exemptions.

Previously, exemption claims were only accepted between July 1 and Aug. 31. The amendment to the ordinance allows applicants to make claims for exemption outside that timeframe.

“[With the amendment] we’re able to make decisions — if we need to — mid-year for, maybe, annexations,” said Smiths Station Mayor F.L. “Bubba” Copeland.

“It provides a mechanism for someone to claim or ask for an exemption after Aug. 31, and then it provides a mechanism for them to follow to get to that end result,” added City Attorney Allen Martin.

The council approved business related to various city projects as well. One item was a cost-sharing agreement with Smiths Water and Sewer Authority Inc. for the Sanitary Sewer Expansion Project, which entails sewer expansion from Lee Road 243 to Highway 280, according to Bryce. It is also tied to commercial development and will provide sewer access to residents on Lee Road 243 (Railroad Avenue) and Summerville Road.

The council also approved a contract with D&J Enterprises Inc. in the amount of $222,720 for the Cummings Road (Lee Road 294) Improvements Project.

In addition, the council approved an extension of a special use permit for modifications of a wireless telecommunications facility on Mullin Road.

The council also honored Smiths Station High School student JaNiah Hoskins for her winning racial justice essay for the Lee County Remembrance Project, titled “The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Alabama’s Voter Suppression History.”

The Lee County Board of Education also recognized Hoskins at its Jan. 10 meeting.

The Remembrance Project was established to honor the lives of African Americans who were mistreated as far back as the 18th century, Copeland explained. He presented Hoskins with a city coin the day she won the award and issued a proclamation in her honor at the Jan. 24 meeting.

“She had competition [at other schools] … and Smiths Station stood out,” said Place 2 Council Member Morris Jackson, who was present when Hoskins received her first place award at the county courthouse. “She represented Smiths Station well.”

Hoskins said she was glad she won the competition and glad to be making a change.

In other business, the council appointed Fran Remington to the vacancy on the Environmental Committee and approved a contract for Parks and Recreation Department Assistant Larry Hart in the amount of about $1,000 per month to perform additional duties. Copeland said Smiths Station also enjoyed a successful MLK City-Wide Cleanup Day Jan. 21, with about 70 volunteers turning out to help pick up trash along the city’s roads.

Smiths Station City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. Eastern Time at the city government building, located at 2336 Panther Parkway (Lee Road 430). A public work session is held 30 minutes prior.

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