A special committee of the Mobile City Council will meet on Monday February 3 to continue discussions about withdrawing city public safety services from the police jurisdiction.
Councilman Joel Daves proposed the idea last month. Currently, the City of Mobile provides police and fire protection in an area extending three miles outside the city limits. In exchange, the City collects half of the normal city sales tax and business license fees in the jurisdiction.
If the jurisdiction is eliminated, some 70,000 residents would have to be served by volunteer fire departments and the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office. The MCSO says it would cost about $4.8 million annually to patrol the area.
The City of Mobile and the Mobile County Commission, which funds the MCSO, have different figures when it comes to how much the City currently spends on the jurisdiction. Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s office has said the City spends $26.5 million a year and collects $12.2 million in taxes and fees. That’s a net annual cost of $14.3 million.The County, however, claims the City spends only $13.9 million, for a net cost of $1.7 million.
The County based its figures on the fact that 11.8-percent of the City’s total calls come from the jurisdiction. The City based its figures on the fact that 19-percent of time spent on all service calls come from the jurisdiction.
Last fall, 13,000 residents in the jurisdiction asked to be able to vote on being annexed into the City but were turned down by the council. Councilmembers in favor of annexation worry that those residents and others in the jurisdiction, especially if the City removes services, could incorporate a new city, or annex into Semmes, effectively killing Mobile’s ability to grow.
Daves, Bess Rich, and Fred Richardson serve on the sub-committee that will meet February 2. The meeting is scheduled for 2pm on the in the Council Conference Room on the 9th Floor of the South Tower at Government Plaza.