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Rezone uproar; a primary to decide it; Bowling bolts; and more in this week’s OTR

Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama


Rezone uproar

Residents across Limestone County began receiving recorded calls inviting them to meetings about a proposed school redistricting plan and many of them are unhappy to put it mildly. Those residents in the fast-growing East Limestone/Creekside District are being told they could soon be rezoned to schools in Tanner or Ardmore, which in most cases are much farther than their current school. The School Board is hosting five meetings to discuss the proposed changes but has given no details as to the process to adopt the new districts or if current students will be able to remain at their current school. You can expect quite a few unsparing comments at the upcoming meetings. One county official reasoned that there isn’t a bad school in Limestone County. The same argument is often made in the city of Madison, where residents are at the mercy of ever-moving lines. They would be sure to tell you, passing three closer schools on a now 30-minute drive to drop off is exasperating, to say the least.  They might also tell you opposition hasn’t changed outcomes.  

Decided at the primary

Madison County Commissioner Violet Edwards is favored to win reelection in the upcoming District 6 election against JesHenry Malone. In 2020, Edwards unseated Malone, who was appointed to the position after the death of Commissioner Bob Harrison. Edwards’ race is one of two that should be decided at the primary. East of Edwards in District 3 is Madison County Commissioner Craig Hill. He is expected to handily defeat his primary opponent, Dusty Yarbrough. The primary is March 5.   

Tax relief ahead?  

Property tax re-appraisals promises to be a hot topic when the Legislature begins next week. Several bills have been filed or are being discussed that would cap how much property taxes on homes and even RVs can increase each year. This drive is being spurred by irate property owners who have seen their property taxes increase by double digit percentages each year as local tax assessors reappraise the property. Most proposals would cap the amount taxes would increase each year to five percent or less.

Gray area in green commission

It’s unusual for there to be fireworks at a Huntsville City Council meeting. Mayor Tommy Battle and the five councilmembers are usually united in matters concerning the Rocket City. However, last week there was some discord over the mayor’s Environmental Sustainability Committee. Councilman John Meredith wants to have the council provide input on the panel’s members. But, it’s a committee picked by the mayor – which is within his right, according to City Attorney Trey Riley. The item was on the agenda and then removed, arbitrarily, according to Meredith instead of by a council vote. But the process – the municipal version of making sausage – is a gray area, according to Council President David Little. The city’s bylaws say an item can be removed from a public agenda or postponed by the sponsor without a council vote. “And there’s other language that says that it needs a council vote if it’s being postponed,” Little said. “We did vote to postpone it, but then (the sponsor) pulled it. So I guess it’s kind of a bylaw gray area.” The council meets next Thursday. Stay tuned …

Bowling bolts

Decatur Mayor Tab Bowling will not be present for public comments at city council meetings anymore. This week, the beleaguered mayor walked out of a city council meeting during the public comments portion of the meeting, remarking “many comments are no longer constructive.” Bowling’s home and office have been the subject of protests following the deadly police shooting of Steve Perkins. While Bowling had announced he would not be seeking reelection, now many are wondering if he will finish out his term or step down. 

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