Annex vote little more than formality

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 17, 2004

EUTAW-Due to Councilman Lew Bostick’s vote of no during the Eutaw City Council meeting on Tuesday, a special called meeting was held Wednesday night to hold the vote a second time.

The reason this special meeting was called because the annexation has to be voted on in the form of an ordinance, it had to pass during its first reading Tuesday with a unanimous vote, well it didn’t.

This new ordinance once it passes will shift the lines of the voting districts to encompass the new area that was recently annexed and signed into law by the Governor of Alabama. The council must also vote on new districts for a larger City of Eutaw and send that information to the Justice Department before the Aug. 24 elections.

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Bostick, the most outspoken of the council members gave a 15-minute speech before the vote on Tuesday as to why he would be opposed to the annexation, one-word finances. He said the total yearly income of the new 1,100 residents is around $145,000 and that would drain the city in terms of services and the only way to stop a drain is to increase taxes, mostly sales and property taxes.

“This decision will hurt us all in the long run,” Bostick said.

He said that the decision to annex would spread the city’s police and fire departments to thin and that would lead to an increase in insurance costs because the city’s fire rating would go up.

Mayor Raymond Steele was confident in the plan that the annexation is the right move for the City of Eutaw. He said the city has been in debt before and that if the residents all stick together there is nothing they can’t do.

“I am confidant that we are going to be ok financially,” Steele said, “We were in debt back in 2000 and we worked our way out of that.”

With the annexation completed the population makeup of Eutaw has gone from about 60/40 black to white to 80/20 black to white.

After months of fighting and litigation in the courtrooms of Montgomery, the vote to annex 1,300 more people into the town of Eutaw was denied Tuesday night during the Eutaw City Council meeting due to Councilmember Lew Bostick’s vote of no on the annexation. The council will now have to hold a special called meeting on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in order to pass the annexation ordinance.

The City of Eutaw’s attorney Mike Smith said due to Councilmember Bostick’s vote of no on the proposed ordinance, it could not be passes tonight. Smith also said if he votes no on the ordinance again tomorrow during the called meeting it will not matter and it will get passed anyway.

When it came time to talk about the redistricting of Eutaw (annexation), Bostick had something to say to the council, mayor, and the public that attended the meeting. He said as everyone knows he personally has no objection to the annexation because the percentages fall into the correct limits.

He also said he didn’t plan to oppose this for adoption, but he does have problems with what has been done because every citizen new and old will be effected by this and what it will require of everyone involved.

“Your taxes will be increased because of this either by us or the future council,” Bostick said.

He said the annual budget for Greene County is around $1.3 million and this new annexation of 1,300 people will only bring into the city about $145,000 annually. He also said the city will not be able to afford the levels of service everyone has grown accustom too.

“This thing will hurt us all in the long run,” Bostick said, “I voted no tonight strictly on the financial concerns.”