Clanton discusses land, tech upgrades

Published 10:30 am Friday, March 19, 2021

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By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

The Clanton City Council discussed the possibility of purchasing property near Interstate 65, Exit 205 during a March 18 work session.

The property is about 36 acres and currently owned by the Central Alabama Electric Cooperative, according to real estate agent Janice Hull.

Mayor Jeff Mims said the property was “right beside Merchant’s, it has come down in price quite a bit.”

“Central Alabama Electric Cooperative bought this property a little more than a year ago, and they bought it, not so much to make a profit off it as they did to protect that for its best use in the future,” Hull said. “Since you are trying to expand and you are looking for property and that kind of thing, they have offered it to the city for the money they have in it.”

The cost would be approximately $1.5 million, which includes any needed environmental studies.

“A thing to remember is it has all of that interstate visibility,” Hull said.

A motion to purchase the property would need to be approved during a future voting session for the city to move forward.

The Council also heard a presentation for InCare Technologies about upgrading wireless capabilities and contracting them for technical support and data backup services. The company said its system could have the city back up and running in a few hours if something ever happened where data was inaccessible to employees, such as a ransomware attack. Police Chief Erick Smitherman emphasized that the company was a “one-stop shop” that could handle all of the technology needs for the city and give them access to additional personnel as opposed to having to contract with multiple companies. Smitherman pointed out that the two employees that provide the majority of technical support for the city have other jobs at the city that the IT work takes them away from. CPD Cpt. David Clackley being the main person.

“What we are paying right now is about $50,000 a year, so this would more than that … but there is more that you are getting,” City Clerk Jonathan Seale said. “It’s an investment no doubt but once you figure in David Clackley’s salary, the time he is spending not doing police work (because he is doing tech support) and what we are paying him, it won’t be as much.”

He said this estimate did not include the employee salary who were doing IT work, which could make the actual cost closer to the cost of the service package being considered.

There would be an upfront investment for infrastructure in addition to a monthly fee for the service in a five-year contract. The monthly cost would be $15,000 a month based on the current number of employees.

“We need the security aspects of it,” Councilman Billy Singleton said.

Mims presented information on tax rates in the city and asked the council to consider the possibility of raising the lodging tax by 1-2 %. It is currently 4%. This is expected to be voted on at a future meeting.

Mims gave comparisons to nearby cities and counties saying it was important not to raise it too much because then people would just go to a hotel in a neighboring county or town that is less expensive.