Baldwin state senator says he has no plans to eliminate police jurisdictions

Chris Elliott contradicts suggestions from Mobile mayor’s chief of staff amid annexation debate
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:16 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - In explaining Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s push for annexation this week, Chief of Staff James Barber raised the specter that residents living west of the city limits could find themselves without police and fire protection.

That could occur, Barber told reporters, if the Legislature were to pass a bill sponsored by state Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) that would eliminate police jurisdictions where some municipalities collect half of the sales tax rate from businesses within three miles of the city limits. In exchange for those taxes, Mobile currently responds to police and fire calls, and 40 police officers are assigned full time to patrol those neighborhoods.

Alabama State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne)
Alabama State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne)(Alabama Legislature)

Some annexation supporters have echoed the same concerns.

“We could, potentially, lose fire protection in the area,” West Mobile Annexation Committee secretary Freddy Wheeler told FOX10 News this week. “And that’s a large concern for me as a homeowner.”

But Elliott told FOX10 News on Friday that he has no such bill. He said made the proposal four years ago but that the idea went nowhere. Instead, Elliott said, the Legislature last year approved a modified version that prevents police jurisdictions from extending if cities annex areas. The law also gives cities the option of reducing the size of their police jurisdictions in half-mile increments.

“That was negotiated, you know, two years ago,” he said. “I think that’s done. I’ll tell you this: I don’t have a piece of legislation like that. I don’t know of anybody that does. And I’m chairing the county and municipal government committee in the Senate next year, and I don’t see anything like that coming up again.”

Barber on Friday told FOX10 News that the point he was trying to make is that Elliott’s original proposal prompted residents west of the city to ask to join Mobile. The City Council rejected a proposal in 2019 that would have allowed those neighborhoods to vote on the matter. Stimpson is pushing a revised proposal and this week unveiled four potential scenarios that could add between 16,738 to 26,091 new residents.

Elliott said he supports Mobile’s efforts to expand.

“I think it is a no-brainer for the city of Mobile and, certainly, for the residents outside the city that are receiving the lion’s share of the services that they are right now,” he said. “For the people that live outside the city, it’s a good revenue solution for them and helps the city continue to grow.”

Although Elliott reiterated that he has no plans to offer additional legislation, he added that he believes police jurisdictions should go away over time.

“Philosophically, I don’t believe that folks that live outside corporate limits should be taxed and regulated by people that they can’t vote fort,” he said.

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