Councilman Greg Gossett was the lone councilman to vote against waiving the fees and permits for the construction of the new hospital.
“Last Thursday morning I got accused of being against the hospital,” Gossett said. “I’m not against the hospital by no means.”
Gossett said he only wants to know how much hospital project incentives are going to cost the city.
He said the city is providing in-kind service for the construction of the hospital, including the site preparation work.
“We have committed water and sewer, something we don’t do for other developments,” Gossett said.
He said the city has agreed to share half the cost for the construction of roads, gutters and curbs for the new hospital, and up to $50,000 a year for the next 20 years to help subsidize the hospital.
“I’m not for passing anything without knowing a monetary value,” Gossett said, adding he has heard four different figures as to the total cost for the construction of the new hospital. “I think we owe the citizens of Pell City the monetary value.”
Gossett said Mayor Bill Hereford was to provide the council with the total amount the city is contributing to the hospital project.
“Do you have those figures?” he asked Hereford at Monday night’s meeting.
“I don’t have any figures other than what you presented at the last council meeting,” Hereford said.
Hereford said the city is still paying $85,000 a year for the Honda of Alabama project, but the car manufacturer has provided 1,400 jobs for St. Clair County residents.
“You can debate this all day,” Hereford told Gossett.
He said the hospital project will trigger the greatest economic boost for Pell City ever, saying the investment is well worth what the city will receive through new jobs, taxes and new economic development north of Interstate 20.
But, Gossett was adamant that the taxpayers had a right to know what the city was actually providing for the hospital project.
“I will not vote for it unless I know what I’m giving,” he said.
City officials emphasized construction fees and permits are only waived for the St. Clair County Healthcare Authority, and it does not include the waiving of proper permits, fees and licenses for individual contractors or workers who perform work on the hospital construction project.
Hereford said at least 25 percent of the hospital work completed is supposed to be done with local materials and local workers.
“It’s a big shot in the arm for our local people,” Hereford said.
In other matters Monday night, the council:
• Unanimously approved the replacement hospital development agreement.
• Approved a resolution for a YWCA Emergency Shelter Grant.
• Approved financing from Metro Bank at 3.86 percent for the purchase of computer software.
• Approved to apply for a Community Outreach Partnership Center grant.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone property located at 815 and 817 33rd Street North from R-3, Medium Density Residential District, to B-1, Neighborhood Business District. The council is expected to have the second and final reading at its next council meeting.
• Approved a resolution to re-survey lots 2 and 3 in the Truss Lee Subdivision.
• Approved the rezoning of lot 2A in the Truss Lee Subdivision from R-A, Residential Agricultural, to R-1, Low Density Residential District.
• Approved a proclamation proclaiming April as Fair Housing Month.
• Approved the installation of a street light on 27th Street.
• Approved a worksite agreement with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.