Recently there was an article in The Outlook wherein Alexander City Mayor Jim Nabors indicated the city would move money from somewhere in the city to purchase the old Russell Sales Office and replace that money when a loan was secured and finalized.
First, I would say for the record I was not for the purchase of the old sales office and moving city hall and other departments from downtown to U.S. Highway 280. I don’t think some councilmembers voted the way their constituents wanted. From the people I talked to and from other means of information gathering, I feel there was more of a majority of citizens against this move than was for it. I know I have personally contacted my councilmember to express my concerns and from our conversation I feel he already had his mind made up and his constituents’ disapproval of the move didn’t matter.
Having said that, from my limited knowledge of governmental budgetary accounting, I think any obligating of city funds, even moving funds within the budget, requires approval of the city council, especially if the funds have not been previously approved for a specific purpose. When the council approved this action, my understanding is it was dependent on securing a loan then purchasing the old sales office and doing renovations. When the city council approved the 2019-20 fiscal year budget, I don’t think it approved funds for this massive project. Again, I think it was dependent on securing a loan.
Therefore, this is an open letter to my District 4 council representative (Eric Brown) and the city council as a whole to not approve an amendment to the budget to take funds from within the current budget and purchase the old sales office. The city should wait for the loan to be secured and funds from that loan are available.
If the seller is not willing to wait for the loan to be secured then perhaps the council should reconsider the purchase. The city council would be fiscally responsible to make this purchase before a loan is secured. What if the loan is not secured?
Michael W. Mann
Editor’s note: In a story on the front page of today’s Outlook, Nabors said he will ask the city council at Monday’s meeting to transfer $2.55 million from the electric fund to the general fund to buy the property. The city is closing on the loan Monday and is paying the owner Tuesday. The resolution approving the transfer requires the electric fund to be repaid with the loan proceeds within 60 days. The city must legally own the property before beginning any work on the former Russell Sales Office and surrounding property.