The Jefferson County Commission voted again Tuesday to withdraw from the Storm Water Management Authority, a regional agency that monitors storm water runoff and keeps communities compliant with the Clean Water Act.
The commission had already voted twice to withdraw from the authority, but Commission President Bettye Fine Collins asked her colleagues last month to rescind that decision. If the county withdraws from SWMA, as many as 15 employees working for SWMA will be returned to the county, she said. Those positions were under the county before SWMA was formed and are subject to Jefferson County Personnel Board protection.
Currently the county pays about $400,000 per year to SWMA for its services. Re-assuming those duties and taking in the 15 employees would cost the county about $1,500,000 per year, Collins said.
“I think it was a good bargain for our people and I think they kept us out of trouble,” Collins said.
Collins cast the only vote in favor of SWMA. Commissioner Jim Carns voted for withdrawal. Commissioners Bobby Humphryes and William Bell abstained. Commissioner Smoot was absent.
After the meeting, Commissioner Collins blamed a consortium of business interests, the Business Alliance for Responsible Development, for undermining SWMA. Businesses have blamed SWMA for restricting their development of the county, she said.
“I think that BARD group can take credit for this today,” Collins said.
Stephen Bradley, a spokesman for BARD, called Collins' comments incorrect.
“SWMA has been its own undoing,” Bradley said. “It has overstepped its authority which was granted to it by legislative act. It has built an unnecessary, bloated bureaucracy, which is many times what is needed to carry out its functions.”