LOXLEY — After paying homage to its longtime mayor, the Loxley Town Council took a small step forward at its council meeting on Monday, June 10.
The council meeting began with prayer by the Rev. Brian Wade, pastor of the Loxley Church of God, where Mayor Billy Middleton was a lifelong member.
This was the council’s first regular meeting since Middleton’s passing on Friday, May 17 after a brief but hard-fought battle with cancer. He was 78.
Middleton was first elected to serve as Loxley’s mayor in 1988 and was serving his seventh term. He ran unopposed in the 2012 election, while no elections were held in Loxley in 2008 and 2016 because all incumbents ran unopposed.
Following public hearings and taking care of routine business, council member Jeff Knight nominated Mayor Pro Tem Richard Teal to finish out Middleton’s term as mayor. The measure passed unanimously with council member Kasey Childress unable to attend the meeting.
Along with Middleton and council member Katherine Breeden, Teal, a supervisor with Flowerwood Nursery, was recently honored by the Alabama League of Municipalities for 30 years of service to the town.
Teal is a native and lifelong resident of Loxley and graduate of Robertsdale High School. He is also a lifelong member of the Loxley Church of God.
“I am humbled and honored to follow in the footsteps of a man I considered to be a father-figure,” Teal said, “and I will do my best to honor him by serving the town to the best of my ability.”
A special meeting will be held during the council’s work session on Monday, June 24 in which Teal will be sworn in as mayor.
Attorney Shawn Alves with Stone Crosby PC, that represents the town in all legal matters, said the council will also have to discuss appointing a mayor pro tem to fill Teal’s term, which runs through November 2020. The council will also have to nominate someone to fill Teal’s Place 4 council seat.
In other business June 10, the council approved a tax revenue sharing and incentive agreement with Manning Inc., owners of Piggly Wiggly.
Officials broke ground this past November on a new 30,500 square-foot Piggly Wiggly Cost Plus facility, with an additional 7,200 square feet of retail space, which is scheduled to open at some point during the summer at 1078 S. Hickory St., across from Loxley Town Hall.
Ahead of the store’s opening, which at this point should be sometime in July or August, officials approved tax incentives in which the town will make monthly payments to Manning equal to 50 percent of the net town sales tax proceeds collected by the town during the fiscal year, provided that the business maintain sales tax proceeds of a minimum $112,500 each fiscal year with a maximum incentive amount of $225,000.
In return, according to the terms of the agreement, Manning Inc. would agree to us “commercially reasonable best efforts” to ensure 80 percent of the total leasable square footage on the property is continuously leased to commercial tenants.
The agreement also places restrictions on who the property can be leased to, stating that the property cannot lease space to any massage parlor, hot tub facility, tattoo parlor, adult book store, off-track betting, charity bingo or other facility used for gambling.
Manning Inc. also agrees to maintain at least 31 employees, at least 15 full-time, maintaining a payroll of at least $529,000, which includes all wages and other compensation paid to all employees.
The Manning family opened their first grocery store in Mobile County in 1972, then purchased the existing Baldwin County Cain’s Piggly Wiggly stores in 2016. In addition to the Loxley location, the Manning family owns Piggly Wiggly stores in Foley, Fairhope and Spanish Fort, along with eight locations in Mobile County, five in Mobile, one in Saraland, Chunchula and Mt. Vernon.
In January, the town approved a tax incentive agreement with the owners of Buc-ee’s Travel Center off of Interstate 10 at the Baldwin Beach Express. The town also annexed the property into its limits as part of the agreement.
According to that agreement, within 30 days of annexation, the company agreed to a one-time payment to the town of $50,000, along with annual payments of $25,000 over a 20-year period.
In turn, the town will provide the company with a “tax-incentive payment” of 37.5 percent of the sales taxes collected by the company, and 25 percent of the fuel taxes collected by the company.
The council also voted to recommend approval by the Alabama Alcohol Beverage Control Board for a retail beer (on or off premises) and retail table win (on or off premises) for Manning Inc. at the new Piggly Wiggly location.
Also on June 10, the council:
•Approved the annexation of property within the town limits of Loxley owned by Adam and Stacee Bertolla.
•Purchased an advertisement in the 2019 Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce Magazine at a cost of $1,275. Council members were also introduced to junior executives from the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce during the meeting.
•Accepted audited financial statements for fiscal year 2017-18.
•Approved the sale of a 2008 F350 Ford pickup truck for the town’s utilities department.
•Awarded a contract for engineering services for a Community Development Block Grant to Goodwin, Mills and Cawood Inc.
•Awarded a contract for program administration services for the CDBC grant.
•Approved a legal representation agreement with Holston, Vaughan & Rosenthal LLC for the demolition of the Loxley Hotel as an unsafe structure.
•Approved a general obligation warrant in the amount of $111,400 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, for the purchase of patrol cars for the town’s police department.
•Approved an agreement to hire Jennifer Fidler as a temporary consultant to work with the town’s Beautification Committee.
•Approved the purchase of lighting at the town’s Kid’s Park at a cost of $3,570.
•Approved the use of town facilities for the Fire Chiefs Association Dinner on July 11.