The Mobile City Council on Tuesday, Jan. 7 approved a resolution asking the administration of President Donald J. Trump to remove Airbus A320 component parts from a list of items slated for a new round of proposed tariffs.
The resolution as amended, sponsored by Mayor Sandy Stimpson and councilors, will only pertain to components being shipped from Europe to Mobile and will include language approved by South Alabama’s Congressional delegation, which includes Rep. Bradley Byrne and Senators Richard Shelby and Doug Jones, Councilman John Williams said during a pre-conference meeting. The resolution also ask for “no new tariffs” impacting Mobile jobs.
“Right now it’s our local Airbus’ opinion, as well as ours, that what is in place works for Mobile,” Williams said.
Airbus’ Michelle Hurdle said the last time the World Trade Organization took up the tariff issues on foreign aircraft, components shipped to Mobile was taken off the list of items impacted by possible tariffs. Over the last three weeks, she said, that list has been re-evaluated and the Airbus components had been added back.
“We’re just asking for support,” she said. “The public comment period ends next week.”
In other business, councilors held a somewhat lengthy debate over the re-appropriation of more than $95,000 from economic development to council discretionary funds. Of the $95,000, $15,000 would be put toward helping community groups pay fees to use various recreation centers for events. The rest would go into each district’s discretionary account.
Councilwoman Bess Rich asked other councilors how the group arrived at $15,000 for the various fees. Councilwoman Gina Gregory told her Council President Levon Manzie had asked individual councilors about an amount they had used to reimburse groups for fees charged at city-owned facilities and came up with that number.
While Councilman Fred Richardson called it “unacceptable” to charge fees to open a recreation center on a Saturday, Rich supported the fees, saying the city must pay for workers at utilities at the facilities.
“This is a good thing,” Manzie said. “I don’t understand why we’re beating this down. This is a good thing.”
Daves added the debate was more expensive than the cost of the fees.
“It’s $15,000,” he said. “We’re spending more than $15,000 just talking about this.”
As for Williams, he told other councilors to split his additional funds among themselves to use for fee waivers or to put in their discretionary accounts. He then left the pre-conference room while the debate continued.
The council delayed a vote on pulling police and fire protection from the city’s three-mile police jurisdiction until at least Tuesday, Feb. 4. Rich, who serves as chairwoman for an ad-hoc committee tasked with taking up the issue at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, is asking both the city and county to present cases for and against the proposal.
Paul Wesch, the city’s executive director of finance, told Rich the proposal began with a proposed council ordinance and he would need councilors to let the city know what information the committee needed. Rich said she invited all three members of the County Commission and offered them time to provide whatever information they wanted to. She said she wanted to extend the same offer to the city.
Wesch said the council’s previous requests for numbers related to call volume in the jurisdiction as well as the numbers and methodology it used to come up with the amount spent out there each year should be ready by the committee meeting.
The council has received four applications for its new attorney and has set a Feb. 1 deadline for more, Gregory said. Gregory, who is chairwoman of a committee tasked with interviewing for a new attorney, said the committee will meet at the end of this month. She said she hopes to have a new attorney in place next month.
The council delayed for a week, per its rules, a vote on a lease agreement between Retirement Systems of Alabama and the Mobile Police Department (MPD) for its new Central Precinct on Water Street.
Executive Director of Public Safety James Barber told reporters the space would be properly sized for a precinct and would include offices. The old police museum building on Dauphin Street was too small for a full precinct, he said. The Dauphin Street office would no longer be manned once Central Precinct is opened. Barber said MPD would hold a ribbon cutting soon.
Councilors and members of the administration gathered Tuesday following the council meeting to tour a new, 34-foot maritime security vessel for MPD. Barber said the vessel could be used for port security as well as for search-and-rescue operations.
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