Mayors predict downturn has ‘hit bottom’

Leadership of Shelby County’s municipalities met in Columbiana April 8 for lunch as guests of the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce.

Mayors or their representatives from Alabaster, Calera, Montevallo, Pelham, Indian Springs Village, Helena, Harpersville, Hoover, Chelsea, Westover, Wilsonville, Columbiana and Vincent spoke to an overflow crowd at the Columbiana United Methodist Church Thursday.

The atmosphere among the mayors was jovial, but each echoed similar sober sentiments relating to tax revenues and the effects of the economic downturn on their communities.

Alabaster Mayor David Frings touted his city as having been selected recently among the best 100 cities in the United States to live and being the most affordable suburb in Alabama. Still, sales tax revenues are down.

“We are doing better than some areas of the state and country,” Frings said.

He said he thinks the city’s revenues have “leveled and are holding.”

Harpersville Mayor Theoangelo Perkins revealed some breaking business news, announcing the Budweiser operation in Sylacauga is moving its headquarters to Harpersville.

Calera’s Mayor John Graham announced that the long-awaited new Publix supermarket in that city is within three weeks of opening.

Graham also said new residential construction permits for the first three months of 2010 are up dramatically from a year ago, 72 in 2010 compared to 12 permits in 2009.

Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven bragged on the coming Publix supermarket under construction in his city, announcing it will open in January 2011. Niven also said he expects work to begin soon on the construction of an Applebee’s restaurant.

Niven also urged support for the proposed elevated tollway on U.S. 280 to ease the traffic congestion on that roadway.

“We need to do it now,” Niven said.

Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos said building permits in Hoover are up as compared to last year, but down significantly from the year before, “though I think we’ve hit bottom.”

Pelham Mayor Don Murphy invited all to Sunday’s burning of the mortgage of the home of fallen Pelham Police Officer Philip Davis family.

Murphy said all communities in Shelby County participated in helping to raise $215,000 in 35 days, saying the effort brought all of Shelby County closer together.

The mortgage burning ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Pelham Civic Complex.