By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
For the third time, the City Council here approved a revised agreement with Wallace State Community College which would bring the entire campus into the city and allow it to share city services like sewer, jail and court system.
Council members Jimmy Sawyer, Charles Wilson and Kim Brown unanimously agreed to the agreement at its Oct. 24 meeting with two conditions: a section related to the termination of the agreement be struck and the acceptance of another section related to any future de-annexation by the college. Council members Doug Batemon and Greg Baker were absent from the meeting.
The vote marks the third time in the past three months the city council approved a version of the agreement. The document has been revised back and forth between City Attorney Dan Willingham and Wallace State President Vicki Hawsey Karolewics and the college’s attorneys. Wallace State is still in the process of finalizing the agreement, said Hawsey Karolewics.
“I, the city council, Wallace State board and mayor have been working diligently over the past few months to develop an agreement that is best for all parties involved,” Hawsey Karolewics said. “I look forward to finalizing it as soon as possible.”
At issue is the college’s access to the city’s sewer system and what would happen to that arrangement if the agreement was terminated. By agreeing to strike language that states “de-annexation would result in no access to its (Hanceville) sewer system,” the college could technically maintain sewer access without being inside the city. Hanceville city ordinance states no one outside the city can have sewer access.
However, the college — like any other property owner within city limits — can not de-annex from the city without first requesting and getting approval from the city council.
The council accepted the following language related to termination of the agreement: “This Agreement shall be perpetual unless terminated as provided herein. The spirit of this agreement is that Wallace have access to the sewer, water, courts, jail, dispatch and future water without concerns over future unwarranted, unreasonable or disproportionate costs for these services. If the spirit of the agreement is breached, that shall be cause for either party to return to its previous position including de-annexation. The parties agree that it is to the mutual advantage of the parties to continue working together to the betterment of the citizens they serve and, therefore, all parties are committed to continued intergovernmental cooperation."
Hanceville and its sewer department has also agreed to waive impact fees for Wallace State for eight years.
Wallace State will be responsible for maintaining its sewer lines and pumping stations on campus and must monitor its waste water to prevent any possible industrial waste water from entering Hanceville’s system. Wallace State would pay a commercial customer sewer rate, and any rate increases would be spread across the entire system.
Campus police will be allowed to use Hanceville’s dispatch, jail and municipal court. The city would retain court fines and costs, and it would not be responsible for any of Wallace State inmates’ medical bills. Records on Hanceville and Wallace State inmates would be kept separate, per the agreement.
City and college officials believe the agreement would be mutually beneficial for Hanceville and the community college which sits on roughly 300 acres with about 7,000 students.
In other business the council:
Tabled rescheduling November 28th meeting for Thanksgiving holiday to allow input from councilmen Doug Batemon and Greg Baker.
Tabled for further discussion proposed paving of a 1,860-foot section of Michelle Street with the Cullman County Commission’s contract with Good Hope Contracting.
Tabled Historical Preservation Commission appointment.
Tabled Zoning Board of Adjustments appointment.
Tabled approval of $5,686 Trident invoice for legal services until Trident can provide a detailed account of what it is being billed for.
Discussed the city’s position on allowing chickens within city limits. The city does not have an ordinance forbidding chickens. An ordinance passed in 1940 prohibited chickens, but it is unenforceable because it was not signed.
Approved Ordinance 599 related to annexation of two parcels of land, zoned R-1 residential, owned by J.W. and Jackie Thompson and Gwen Headrick and Johnny Thompson.
Reviewed bank accounts balance sheet and vendor check detail for September.
Announced upcoming events: Hanceville Elementary’s Veterans program, 8:30 a.m., Nov. 7 at Lane Horton gym; Hanceville High’s Veterans program, 8 a.m., Nov. 8 at the gym and City of Hanceville’s Veterans program, 1 p.m., Nov. 8 at the recreation center.
The Hanceville City Council will hold a work session 6:30 p.m. Nov. 14 followed by its regular meeting at 7 p.m.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.