During the Elba City Council meeting held Monday night, Jan. 25, Mayor Tom Maddox revealed his intentions to put measures in place to be proactive in trying to bring new business to Elba.

The discussion began as the mayor updated council members on progress for the Annie’s Comfort Kitchen restaurant slated to open soon in Elba. He said the owners currently are renovating the location for the restaurant [at the Shoppes at Taylor Crossing/former Hickory Pit building].

“They are excited about opening and do not feel like it will be long now,” Maddox said.

Maddox then revealed a concept he had developed for the purpose of making Elba more attractive to new businesses, saying he would like the council to consider an incentive for Annie’s Comfort Kitchen to help get this business off the ground and help with construction costs. 

Further, Maddox said he would like to present at a future meeting a blanket proposal that would allow the mayor to be able to offer an incentive to any business looking to come to Elba.

“I think we need to be more aggressive in getting new business here,” Maddox said. “One rebuttal to that is, ‘Well, I have a business here and no one offered me anything.’ And, I would say, ‘Well, I wasn’t mayor then.’” 

The potential incentive Maddox mentioned for Annie’s Comfort Kitchen was a sales tax rebate [excluding the school portion] for up to one year or an aggregate of $10,000 whichever comes first.

“I’m all for doing what we need to do, but I think we need to have a work session first to work out details,” council member Gappa Wise said. “We’ve discussed it several times with [former] Mayor Murdock, but we never got anything on paper – just never got to that point, I guess.”

City attorney Bart Boothe added that such an incentive, since it deals with sales tax, might require an ordinance of a specific nature be on record for the city before it can be offered. He asked the council to provide him a little time to research to see if a rebate-type incentive requires any type of ordinance.

“The idea is certainly probably well taken by the council, but I think you need to put it off until we can get a more formal proposal together,” Boothe suggested. 

Wise agreed with getting a formal proposal together.

“I just think we all need to be on the same page and have an across-the-board proposal together,” Wise said. “But, I am all for doing something.”

The council chose to hold a work session after Boothe had time to research the matter further. After said work session, the council would bring the matter to a vote at the next meeting following the work session.

“Let’s make it official, and do it the right way,” Mayor Maddox agreed.

A review of the city’s financial through Dec. 31, 2020 showed the city had a total cash flow [all funds] of $1,226,806, and Mayor Maddox said the statement of revenues for the fourth quarter said sales/use tax continued to look good for the city.

“We are always fearful that our sales/use tax will drop,” he said. “So far, though, we’ve done okay.”

For December 2020, Elba’s sales/use tax was $120,614 compared to $119,525 for December in 2019 – a positive variance of .9 percent. Looking at Year-to-Date [YTD] comparing Fiscal Year 2020/2021 to Fiscal Year 2019/2020, it looked even better – the Fiscal Year 2020/2021 YTD was $384,410.

Another positive pointed out by the mayor regarding revenues was funding from Southeast Alabama Gas. He said the city had budgeted $16,250 YTD but had received a total of $76,975 for the YTD FY2020/FY2021.

A possible area of concern regarding revenues, according to the mayor, was municipal court revenues with YTD revenues showing a negative variance of more than 50 percent.

Overall, Maddox said the subtotal for operation revenues had the city at a 22.3 positive variance comparing December 2020 [$305,199] to December 2019 [$249,621], and the YTD showed a more than $90,000 increase

Looking at operational expenditures, the mayor said the city had expended just over $50,000 more for Actual YTD FY 2021 than it had budgeted for the period. However, for the month of December 2020 the expenditures were $24,975 under budget.

Elba City Clerk Sally Bane provided several departmental updates during the meeting. She noted the street department had completed the demolition of another FEMA buyout house since the previous council meeting, and that department also had been doing some work on Taylor Mill Road at a bridge/culvert that was experiencing problems.

Bane said the recreation department had about three more weeks remaining for the regular season of youth basketball. At the conclusion of the regular season, she said Elba Parks and Recreation would be hosting a district basketball tournament at Elba High School’s gym on Feb. 26-27.

Also, Bane said youth baseball/softball registration is now underway for Elba Parks and Recreation.

In the month of January, Bane said the Elba Senior Citizens Center delivered 1,255 meals [about 63-64 per day]. She said his work was being done by one full-time employee, and employee working about 30 hours per week, and one true part-time employee.

“That is a lot of meals being delivered daily by these three employees,” Bane said.

Bane said she did not have the statistics for January yet for the Elba Public Library, but in December, 557 people were serviced by the Elba Public Library. She said 54 people used the computer services, and 64 people utilized the wireless WiFi. The library added seven new patrons and had a total of 24 volunteer hours completed.

“Again, that’s pretty good stats for our small town, community library,” Bane said to council members.

The next regular meeting for the Elba City Council will be Monday, Feb. 8, at 5:30 p.m., at Elba City Hall.

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