Pelham considering safety-related changesPublished 11:05pm Monday, September 23, 2013
By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor
The Pelham City Council could begin holding its meetings in the courtroom of the Pelham Police Department if the council agrees to fund safety-related changes to City Hall.
During a Sept. 23 council work session, during which the council met with Pelham department heads to review the city’s proposed 2014 fiscal year budget, Finance Director Tom Seale requested the upgrades in his proposed administrative budget.
In late 2012, Pelham’s Revenue Department and Finance Department were combined into a single department on the lower floor of City Hall. Seale requested the city’s Revenue and Finance Department be moved into the current council chambers on the upper floor of City Hall.
Seale suggested a city 311 call center, which would connect callers to city departments and occupy the Revenue and Finance Department’s current space on the lower floor.
Seale’s budget proposal requested about $20,000 to renovate the current council chambers to house the Revenue and Finance Department.
If the Revenue and Finance Department moves into the current council chambers, the council could begin meeting in the city’s courtroom, which would add to security at city meetings, Mayor Gary Waters said.
“It would be easier to safeguard you and everyone else by meeting over there,” Waters said of the city courtroom, noting he was concerned in the wake of recent shootings across the nation. “In the last few months, we have had two people who would wish violence on City Hall. I do worry about it.”
Pelham police currently set up metal detectors at the front door of City Hall during council meetings, but moving the meetings to the city courtroom would add another level of security, Waters said.
Under Alabama’s new gun laws, cities are able to ban firearms from city facilities during government meetings.
The council will review the proposed city budget over the next few weeks before finalizing the document and voting on it during an upcoming meeting. The council’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Monday, Oct. 7.