By ARTHUR L. MACK
MOBILE — Mobile City Council members on Tuesday approved the 2020-21 general fund, capital improvement fund and convention center fund budgets, but not before lengthy, sometimes contentious, discussions on at least one proposed amendment.
Six council members voted to approve the budget, but councilman Fred Richardson, who wanted to amend the capital improvement fund portion of the budget so he could have $1 million transferred from the vehicle settlement line item to add a new line item and call it the St. Stephens Road revitalization program, abstained.
The vote came after council members Bess Rich and Richardson wanted to have amendments placed on their capital improvement funds portion of the budget.
Rich successfully proposed an amendment to her CIP portion to change the synthetic turf installation for Medal of Honor Park, which was programmed for $880,000, put into the following categories: $400,000 for resurfacing, $400,000 for sidewalk lines for new sidewalks and $80,000 for Grelot Road beautification.
Richardson said in the 2020-21 capital improvement fund budget, Mayor Sandy Stimpson did not place any money in District 1.
“For him to give money to four or five districts and not give any money to District 1, is unacceptable,” Richardson said. “The reason he said that was because in the past, he gave us money to build a fire station in District 1. There is a fire station being built in Langan Park and he’s allocating $970,000 for Langan Park. I’m saying that it’s just unjustifiable.”
As for an addition of the new line item for the St. Stephens Road project, Richardson said the reason he wanted to do it was because the street, which is part of U.S. Highway 45, is the only two-lane U.S. highway in the city of Mobile.
Councilman John Williams interrupted Richardson, saying there was not a motion made to make the amendment. Richardson, however, said he did make a motion. Williams said that as a part of parliamentary procedure, a motion had to be made. The two argued back and forth before council president Levon Manzie asked Richardson to restate the motion.
After Richardson did so, Rich seconded it, but had some remarks, saying she also did not get any money for parks.
“If we look at that list, there are park improvements in the majority of the districts but not in all the districts,” she said. “The district that I represent did not get chosen, but I’ve been working with discretionary (funds) and CIP funds over the last number of years to make those improvements at Medal of Honor Park and it’s been very successful for the most part.
“Taking money from a line where we won’t know what we’ll be doing at this point when we’re moving a million (dollars) from one line (item) is not keeping it apples to apples, it’s doing apples to oranges. It would make it difficult for the council to make a good decision.”
Rich went on to say she was encouraged there was money in the budget for the St. Stephens Road corridor, but said it could not be done in this calendar year because, in her words, “There were too many unknowns” as to what would be required.