By Crystal McGough
PINSON – Pinson Mayor Joe Cochran gave a proclamation at the Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, Pinson City Council meeting to establish that the city of Pinson recognizes the month of January as “Human Trafficking Awareness Month.”
The council had Resolution 2021-2 on the agenda, establishing the city of Pinson as a “Trafficking Free Zone,” but that resolution was tabled after Councilor Robbie Roberts made a motion to remove the “zero-tolerance” wording.
“I’m always a little nervous about very rigid language, and so I would like for us to strike the section here where it says, ‘the implementation and enforcement of a zero-tolerance policy against any act which may support human trafficking,’” Roberts said. “Certainly, no one wants to be involved in human trafficking. I would like for it just to read, ‘the implementation and enforcement of a policy against any act which may support human trafficking.’ The zero-tolerance, I’m afraid somebody might accidentally be doing something and I don’t want to tie somebody up when somebody innocently does something … Personally, I’d just like to have those two words removed.”
Councilor Glenda Kirkland disagreed with the proposition to remove “zero-tolerance” from the anti-human trafficking resolution.
“If someone accidentally does something, then they are not guilty until they are proven guilty,” Kirkland said. “So, I don’t want to take out ‘zero-tolerance.’”
Human trafficking awareness advocate Linda Kennemur spoke to the council about setting up an educational meeting with Barbara Fowler, co-chair of the Community Engagement and Awareness Committee for the Child Trafficking Solutions Project. Kennemur recommended that the council table any resolutions or ordinances until after having a chance to speak with Fowler, and instead pass a proclamation for Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
“I want to bring awareness and want to find how to connect cities and towns with the person that can educate you, and this lady, Barbara Fowler, she’s amazing and she can get it done,” Kennemur said. “The things that she can show you to bring awareness and also how to report these things – they need to be reported in a special way – she can bring this to you. It’s kind of heartbreaking, but once that ice is broken, you probably will be as passionate as I am about it.”
The council agreed to table Resolution 2021-2, in favor of a proclamation by Mayor Cochran.
“By virtue of the authority vested in me as the mayor of the city of Pinson, in the state of Alabama, I do hereby proclaim January 2021 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month and the city of Pinson as a trafficking-free zone,” Cochran said. “I look forward to having our presentation, or education, and taking this back up as a resolution at a future date.”
The council also heard from Matt Parker, of Joe Jolly Co., and Nick Greenwood, of Hand Arendall Harrison Sale, concerning general obligation refunding (refinancing) of the city’s existing debt of $2,260,000.
“We’ve put together a new issue,” Parker said. “You’ve got the 2014 warrants outstanding, also you’ve got a 2018 issue that is outstanding, both of which are at higher interest rates than are available in the municipal bond market today.”
Parker said that he was able to get the city a new issue that will pay off the 2014 and 2018 bonds, with an average interest rate of 1.04%. The 2014 bond had an interest rate of 3.18% and the 2018 bond had an interest rate of 4.34%.
“So, it’s going to save the city a good bit of interest in your payments,” Parker said. “We’re simply just lowering the interest rate and reducing your pay.”
The council unanimously approved Ordinance 2021-2, providing for the issuance of $2,260,000 principal amount of general obligation refunding warrants.
“In basic terms, if you had a house that was on an interest rate of 4.34% and you could get a 1.04%, it would be a no-brainer that it’s time to refi your house,” Cochran said. “It’s sort of like that; it’s a little different. … That’s a tremendous rate. I can’t imagine, anytime in the future, us doing better.”
Cochran added that the original date of payoff, 2034, will not be extended as a result of refinancing.
In other city business, the council addressed the following:
- Passed Ordinance 2021-3, authorizing the exemption of certain “covered items” from municipal sales and use tax during the state sales tax holiday (July 16-18, 2021) and certain emergency preparedness items in accordance with the state of Alabama Severe Weather Preparedness Tax Holiday (Act 2012-256) from Feb. 26-28, 2021
- Passed Resolution 21-1, declaring a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe surplus property and authorizing the mayor to sell it by sealed bids, with the minimum bid starting at $7,000
- Re-appointed Thomas Simmons to Planning and Zoning Commission for a six-year term, beginning January 2021 and ending Dec. 31, 2026
- Accepted bid from Eastern Tree Service in the amount of $11,500 for the demolition of a structure at 4238 Pinson Blvd., at the entrance of Bicentennial Park.
- Approved $2,200 donation to Palmerdale Fire Department for a memorial for fallen firefighters
- Approved $18,850 for ADA improvements at the Pinson Youth Sports Complex
- Approved the purchase and installation of a new digital sign for City Hall for the amount of $38,240
- Approved the purchase of four picnic tables ($600/table) and four benches ($335/bench) for Bicentennial Park
- Approved purchase of two 4-stack shoulder pad racks and three football helmet carts for Parks and Recreation for a total amount of $1,291.46
- Called for a work session on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, to discuss the City of Pinson Employee Manual
- Announced a tentative date of May 8, 2021, for Pinson’s CityFest
The Pinson City Council will next meet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, for a work session regarding the employee manual. The next regular meeting of the city council will be Thursday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m., following a pre-council work session at 6:15 p.m.