After being postponed for two weeks, approval of a resolution regarding a mobile home census has been delayed indefinitely after the Marshall County Commission on Wednesday voted to wait to decide on the issue until all related pending litigation has been resolved.
The proposed resolution would create a census of mobile homes in the county’s fire districts for purposes of verifying fire service and registration fees, all within 90 days of its passage, and would task the Revenue Commissioner’s Office and various utility providers to provide certain data on a regular basis.
During the work session before the meeting, District 2 Commissioner Rick Watson recommended, as he did in the last meeting two weeks ago, that the commission postpone the vote on the resolution until after the court proceedings for a lawsuit brought by Georgia Mountain Volunteer Fire Department and 4-C Volunteer Fire Department against the revenue commissioner’s office.
Manager at Marshall County Gas District Richard Lawson agreed with Watson, saying the timing of the census was “not correct.”
“There is no use voting on something you don’t know the outcome of,” Lawson said to the commission. “It may become a moot point. The other thing is, the utilities had no say in this bill when it was developed… There’s 21 utilities in this county and you’re asking all of us to do the same thing, which is a duplication of services.”
The Chairman of the Board of the GMVFD, who is also named Richard Lawson, said the issue of fire fees and mobile home registrations were being misconstrued, that the lawsuit had no bearing on the resolution and that a census is required by Alabama law.
“[The law] says ‘the census will be done,’” he said. “It has nothing to do with fire fees. It says, ‘the utilities shall report monthly on any new hook ups.’ It doesn’t say they can, doesn’t say that may; it says ‘they shall.’ This has been in law since the early 80s; it’s just that it has not been enforced.”
County Attorney Clint Maze said there would be “no harm” in waiting for the lawsuit to be resolved and that many questions related to the suit and resolution would most likely be answered during the court proceedings. However, he said there was “inherently” nothing in the resolution tied to the litigation.
Watson asked why a resolution is even necessary if the code enforcement officer can report the information to the commission.
“The code enforcement officer has been going out and driving around looking for unregistered mobile homes for probably a year, two years at this point,” Maze said. “The resolution gives the chairman the right to go out to the utilities and request this information that is not mandatory. There’s not a code section that says the utilities shall provide this to the commission or the chairman, so the resolution just lends weight to that. It also gives the chairman the indication from this commission whether you all want him to spend his time and direct his employees in that fashion.”
District 3 Commissioner Lee Sims made the initial motion to postpone the resolution, and District 1 Commissioner Ronny Shumate seconded. The motion passed unanimously.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a speed limit of 25 mph on Dempsey Court.
• Approved request by District 4 Commissioner Joey Baker to install “NO OVERNIGHT PARKING” signs at the Wakefield Storm Shelter.
• Approved direct support to Marshall County Sports Hall of Fame $500 from the Countywide Fund.
• Approved going out for bid for a tractor trailer truck.
• Approved purchasing a 2022 F150 from the state bid list in the amount of $40,939 from the Equipment Replacement Fund. Sheriff Phil Sims said this is to replace a vehicle that was damaged in a wreck.
• Approved entering into annual software support agreements by Southern Software; Sheriff’s Discretionary Fund for the 2023 fiscal year. Sims said his discretionary fund has dwindled as pistol permit sales have declined 30% since the State Legislature passed a law no longer requiring residents to pay a fee to carry a firearm. He also said he’s used money from the fund to make some other sizable purchases, such as several new P25 radios. The commission agreed to fund the software agreement for the 2023 fiscal year only, at an estimated cost of $33,000.
• Approved payment request submitted by the Revenue Commissioner’s office for services by Secure Shred totaling $691.84.
• Approved Vehicle Lend - Lease Agreement to be used for vehicles purchased through CDBC- CV Grants.
• Approved extending the two-week application period for Marshall County Department of Human Resources Board; term expires Aug. 31, 2026.
• Announced that with the addition of a new staff member, the Marshall County Animal Shelter will now be open for at least eight hours per day, seven days a week.