Budget hearing set, lawsuits against the city settled

Budget hearing set, lawsuits against the city settled

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By Toni Stauffer

The Phenix City Council approved the following resolutions at its July 16 meeting:

Public Safety Building 

The council approved contracting services from Barnes Gibson Partners Architects LLC  to provide design, development and  construction review services for remodeling the public safety building.  Services will be performed AIA Standard Form Agreement for a fee of 8.5 percent, except for interior which will be 5.0 percent of the project costs. Plans will include a larger council chambers. 

2019-2020 Budget

The proposed budget released by the city of Phenix City has an approved operating revenue of $38,705,092, grants amounting to $699,888 and total available funds at $50,520,034. Total expenditures amount to $37,224,749. The city listed a total revenue of $39,404,980, most of which came from taxes which amounted to $27,580,933. Licenses and permits brought in $5,984,840, while fines and forfeitures brought in $904,195. The summary of expenses came in at $37,224,749. The highest expense is the police department at $7,645,540 with non-departmental coming in second at $6,833,540. The proposed Utilities budget has $12,727,151 in operations revenue, $227,450 in capital revenue with total expenditures being $20,681,015, net from operations is $711,136 for a total department budget of $7,491.742. Funds available for capital improvements is listed as $6,977,385. 

Proposed appropriations came in at $3,021,247 and will be listed in their entirety after the public hearing scheduled for August 8 at 7 p.m. at council chambers, located on the first floor of the public safety building. The proposed budget is on file in the city clerk’s office, located at 601 12th Street, and is available for public inspection between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. 

The council also approved a $2,000 payment to the USDA for the removal of 200 Canadian geese in the interest of public health and safety, entering into a three-year contract with Pratt Recycling, Inc. for the recycling of paper, old corrugated containers, tin cans, aluminum beverage containers, and plastics #1 through #7. Glass will not be accepted.  There are no fees. 

An Estoppel Certificate to complete sale was approved for the city to enter into a lease agreement with Altera Phenix City Lot 4, LLC for property on Hwy 280/431 where the Renfroe’s will be. Talcot Terrace LLC is selling the property to Altera. 

Mifflin Wrongful Death Case Settled

The city council voted to approve a $100,000 settlement at the city council meeting July 2 in a wrongful death civil lawsuit was brought against the city by Cedric Mifflin’s mother, Pochya Dee Sanders for $6 million (Case No. 3:19-CV-00353).

On May 7, 2017, Phenix City Police Corporal Michael Seavers responded to loud music coming from a vehicle driven by 27-year-old Mifflin at Frederick Douglass apartments. Officer Seavers also reported a seatbelt violation. Mifflin reportedly fled the scene and is chased to a second location at 12th Place and 11th Avenue. Investigators later testified that Mifflin then drove at Officer Seavers who, in fear for his life, fired 15 shots. Shot eight times, Mifflin died at the scene. On August 2, 2017, The Alabama State Bureau of Investigations completed their investigation of the incident, and the case went to Russell County’s District Attorney, Ken Davis, for review. In November, 2017, the Russell County Grand Jury cleared Officer Seavers of any criminal wrong-doing. Seavers was placed on administrative leave during the investigation, but returned to duty after the ruling. 

City attorney Jim McKoon said the settlement is absolutely not an admittance of guilt on the part of the city, but that it was a tragic circumstance. In regards as to why the city agreed to pay the settlement, McKoon said, “You have to look at cost of defense, publicity, and community relations. There’s a lot of things involved.”

Lawsuit brought by minor settled

During the meeting July 16 meeting, the council voted to ratify resolution 2019-185, authorizing a final settlement of $6,250 for a lawsuit filed against the city and officer Jay Geiger by a minor identified only by the initials M.M.M. In an interview, city attorney Jimmy Graham said the minor in question, represented by Ashley Collins, had been apprehended in the early morning, had given false information to the police, and had been arrested. The minor was not injured. He said the payment was made because they didn’t know which way a jury might go if the case went to trial.