The Mobile City Council has agreed to pass a storm water management plan and avoid fines from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
The motion passed 5-2 after approval of an amendment that says the consultant, Mobile Group Inc, will issue bimonthly reports.
Mayor Sam Jones will then report those findings back to the council. Councilman John Williams had been pushing for that amendment for quite some time and is happy to see the council agree to it.
The two 'no' votes on the contract, however, came from council president Reggie Copeland, who says the issue should be taken care of in house like other cities, and councilman Bess Rich who is not happy with the choice of consultants.
"They write the plan that goes to ADEM, they enforce the plan, it's just way too heavy a contract and it's very, very costly for the citizens," says Rich.
Getting things prepared has also caused tension between Public Works Director John Bell and the council and even the mayor. In the midst of getting things ready for ADEM, a very time-consuming project, council president Reggie Copeland questioned an invoice for 2,000 hours worked by the Mobile Group. Bell took it personally, writing a letter to Copeland on city letterhead, inferring, in part, that Copeland was racist. Mayor Jones was asked if Bell could possibly face disciplinary action.
"Anything is possible. But that's not the situation right now, we have not spoken to Mr. Bell," says Jones.
Bell is currently on vacation in Indiana until Monday, but he has requested a meeting with Copeland when he gets back. And in turn, Mayor Jones has requested a meeting with Bell next week.
"But the one thing we're not going to do, we're not going to let this define where the city is headed," says Jones.
Overall, the council agrees the new amendment to the contract will provide for more transparency.