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Vines fills vacant City Council seat

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The LaFayette City Council welcomed a new member in their regular meeting on Monday night at City Hall. Erick Vines was sworn in as the city’s council member representing District C prior to the meeting. At the meeting the council also heard a report from members of the Chambers County Development Authority and approved a budget for the current fiscal year.

Vines was given his oath of office by District Judge Calvin Milford at a work session prior to the council meeting. He was selected to fill the post following the resignation of Stevie Rowe at the end of the year. Vines will serve the remainder of Rowe’s term in District C, which will end in 2016.

In regards to the appointment, Mayor Barry Moody clarified some questions that were posed at the previous meeting about Vines’ nomination. Councilman Mike Ellis noted an Alabama statute that required a special election be held for replacing a council member with more than one year left on his or her term. Moody said the stature applied to Class 6 municipalities, which are larger. LaFayette is a Class 8 municipality and therefore does not require a special election, but rather a council member can be named by a majority vote of the mayor and council.

The purpose of the work session was to discuss a new policy manual for the city. Robbie Hyde of the firm Masters, Hyde and Wilford was on hand to work with the council to make the necessary changes. The council presented numerous sections of the former policy manual they would like changed, while Hyde cleared up some questions she had about how the council wanted to address certain policies. What was discussed on Monday was just the initial draft of the manual and work will continue to finalize it in the coming weeks.

Once the council session began, Valerie Gray and Kimberly Fuller of the Chambers County Development Authority gave an annual review to the council, which included discussions on Commercial Spring and Tool and a proposed master plan for the LaFayette Industrial Park. Fuller noted that the CCDA worked 56 projects in 2013, which included 40 industrial, eight commercial and eight retail. She noted Norbord’s decision to invest $45 million for a potential reopening of their Huguley plant in 2015 and the recent reopening of Knauf Insulation. She said that six industries in the county expanded in 2013 and 313 jobs were created along with over $220 million in capital investments being made. She also noted that the local school systems received nearly $800,000 from sales and use taxes from the industries and approximately $360,000 from ad valorem taxes. Fuller also disused the CCDA’s five small business grants that were awarded, three of which were in LaFayette.

Gray informed the council that she had visited Canada in December and visited the home office of Commercial Spring and Tool (CST). CST had previously committed to locate in LaFayette on the Hwy 50, bypass but put a hold on opening due to changes in their customer market. Gray said that CST had lost a contract with a local auto manufacturer, thus delaying their arrival, but noted that they have a new residential product that they are considering manufacturing here in LaFayette. She said that CST officials will be in LaFayette in the spring to discuss their options with the city.

Gray also noted that the CCDA along with Harmon Engineering had laid out master plans for the LaFayette Industrial Park. Gray showed the council two diagrams, the first of which was a Phase I plan, which is more short-term focused and would require little infrastructure work. Phase II was a long term plan that is more detailed. She discussed the purchase and use of land surrounding the current industrial park property, which could be used for development.

The council approved a motion to suspend the rules to immediately adopt the 2013-2014 budget. Finance Committee Chair David Ennis noted that amendments to the budge can be made at any time before seeking approval. The budget projects revenue of $8,312,550 and expenditures of $8,291,967, creating a surplus of $20,574. The budget was unanimously adopted.

*For full story see this week’s edition of The Sun.

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