Tax abatements tabled

News Staff Writer

Abstentions by two different Atmore City Council members prevented immediate approval of separate resolutions to grant tax abatements for two local businesses during the council’s Monday, August 26, meeting.
The abatement requests came from Alto Products Corp. of Atmore, which was asking for relief from property taxes on several pieces of new equipment, and H.O. Weaver & Sons, which wants the same relief for an asphalt plant it plans to build on Woods Road.
City Attorney Larry Wettermark reminded council members before the Alto request was brought before them that state law requires full consent of the body before such measures can be considered.
“Alabama law says for an ordinance or a resolution of permanent application, it can’t be considered at a first meeting unless you have unanimous consent of the entire council,” Wettermark explained. “I think what you have to do, first, is call for immediate consideration of the resolution, then the city clerk has to ask for a roll call vote. If the vote is successful, then you can consider the actual motion.”
Alto’s Controller, Kevin Godwin, told the council the equipment for which the abatement was sought had a cost of “$2 million, at least” and would result in the addition of 25 jobs.
Mayor Jim Staff reminded council members that the company had been granted such requests before.
“This is something we’ve done in past with Alto,” the mayor said. “They’ve got good jobs that pay well, and they’ve been paying the city. Hopefully it’s the start of that expansion they’ve been talking about.”
District 1’s Webb Nall made a motion to grant the abatement, and District 4’s Susan Smith seconded it. Nall, Smith, District 2’s Jerome Webster and District 3’s Chris Walker each voted in favor of the measure, but District 5’s Chris Harrison abstained. (Harrison later explained that his action was due to the fact that the company for which he works, Tiger-Sul, leases office space from Alto.)
“Then it cannot be considered,” Wettermark said. “It would carry over to the next (council) meeting.”
The city’s legal counsel explained that Harrison could vote to bring the matter up for immediate consideration, then abstain from voting on its approval, but Harrison said he would rather wait until complete confirmation could be given.
When the resolution to allow an abatement to the Mobile-based asphalt paving company was introduced, the same fate befell that request.
Nall again made the motion, and Harrison seconded it. But the matter was put on hold when City Clerk Becca Smith asked for the roll call vote.
Webster asked if the matter could be tabled, later announcing that he would abstain from voting on it, and Wettermark again explained that the entire council had to approve such a move.
“If one does not consent, you’ll have to hold it over to the next meeting,” he said.
Staff said both resolutions would be placed on the agenda for the council’s September 9 meeting.