Vote denied to give raises to next mayor, council


LOXLEY, Alabama — A motion to grant raises to the next mayor and council in the town of Loxley failed to go to a vote at the council’s regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 10 after the motion died for lack of a second.

Council member Jeff Knight made the motion to increase the monthly salary for the mayor from $1,250 to $1,500 and for council members from $600 to $700 per month. The raises would have taken effect following the general election in November.

Mayor and all council seats will be up for election on Aug. 25. Qualifying for the municipal races is set to begin July 7 with the deadline to qualify July 21.

According to state law, the council must approve an ordinance amendment to raise the salaries for the next mayor and council six months before the election (February).

Along with the raises was a proposal to include bonuses of $25 per month for completion of Alabama League of Municipalities certification courses.

The bonuses would have been made retroactive for council members who have already completed the certification training. Among the current council, only Katherine Breeden has completed all three certification levels.

The proposal also included the addition of the same cost-of-living raises granted to all full-time employees of the city.

There was also a section granting mayor and council members the same benefits as those of fulltime employees, but that section of the proposed ordinance was stricken before the motion was made.

“In particular I think the mayor deserves a raise,” Knight said. “The mayor’s position is now a full-time job that takes up a lot of his time.”

One person from the audience spoke out against raises, saying that he felt the service of the mayor and council should be considered a “privilege” regardless of compensation.

Raises for the mayor and council have not been approved since 2008.

In other business Feb. 10, the council voted to table action to condemn and remove the history Loxley Hotel building until after a public hearing is held at the council’s March 9 meeting.

Judith Wilkins addressed the Loxley Town Council at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, Dec. 9 on behalf of the property’s owners, Pygmalion Properties LLC, asking permission to demolish part of the structure that has fallen into disrepair.

According to records, the Old Loxley Hotel was built around 1905 by John Marold and his wife Ephrium, just before the railroad was constructed from Bay Minette to Foley. The hotel was located in front of the railroad, opposite the railroad depot.

Marold became a widower and married two other women. The last, Nanny Stapleton, became the owner after Marold died in 1934. Stapleton ran the hotel until her death in 1946.

Her daughter, Mable Stapleton Rossing, took over running the hotel, but following her unexpected death, also in 1946, Jake Jacobs who owned a dry goods store next door, bought the hotel.

He added on a side room with a door as a little apartment to live in while running the store. He also enclosed the wrap-around porch on the south side of the building on both floors which has no siding to date, increasing the size of the building from 4,176 square feet to 5,828 square feet.

The building was abandoned somewhere in the late 1970s and has sat empty ever since. Wilkins bought the hotel around 2000 and made a few repairs.

Another attempt to restore the old structure was begun in 2012 but has since been abandoned.

Wilkins said the current plan is to turn the refurbished structure into office space.

Wilkins said the plan was to keep the main part of the original structure and to demolish an addition that was made to the structure, probably sometime in the 1920s.

Town building inspector Jake Traweek presented a photo to council members saying that the demolition proposed in December had been done, but that he felt the work was inadequate.

“A part of the inside of the building is now exposed to the elements and a tarp they put of the structure is hanging loose,” he said.

Council members agreed that in order to save the structure, property owners need to present more concrete plans at the March meeting or they will proceed with demolition of the unsafe structure.

In other business Feb. 10, the council:

•Approved a proclamation declaring Feb. 14 as Arbor Day.

•Approved a sponsorship request for the Robertsdale High School softball team in the amount of $500.

•Approved a sponsorship request in the amount of $150 for the annual Armadillo Dash which will be held March 7 at Rosinton School.

•Approved a donation request in the amount of $500 for the Robertsdale High School boys’ soccer team. Council member Lee Wilson abstained.

•Approved an ordinance repealing an ordinance regarding the collection of residential water and sewer assessment fees and commercial water and sewer impact fees. The ordinance, adopted in 2017, established the collection of fees prior to the execution of any subdivision plat or other document. The council voted to repeal the ordinance after finding that the collection of fees at the time of issuing a building permit was more practical.

•Approved an interim construction loan for a 2-year non-revolving line of credit with Community Bank of Fairhope. The $4.825 million line of credit is part of a USDA grant for sewer plant improvements. Proposals were also received from United Bank, and TrustMark Bank of Mobile. Representatives from Community Bank were present at the Feb. 10 meeting.

•Approved a contract for professional services with Christian Preus Landscape Architecture to design improvements for Loxley Municipal Park at a cost of $43,594.78. Council members discussed the possibility that the fees could be reimbursed through a grant that the town is currently in the application process.

•Approved a contract for services with DM Tree Service Inc. to remove a dead tree in town at a cost of $2,100.

•Approved a proposal from Baldwin County Construction Inc. for the repair of a culvert on County Road 49 at a cost of $9,500.

•Approved an agreement with the Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos Parish of Malbis to grant a 20-foot easement to the town for utilities running along the right-of-way of U.S. 31 and Stroh Road together with an additional temporary 10-foot construction easement.

•Approved a proposal with Expressway Concrete for the demolition and removal of floor material at the old Loxley Police Department dispatch office on Relham Drive at a cost of $9,856.

•Appointed Jimmy Caanan to fill a vacant position on the town’s Planning Commission.