Unexpected response: Combine Jefferson County with City of Birmingham

Jeffrey Bayer, Bayer Properties
Jeffrey Bayer, President & CEO of Bayer Properties

We were totally surprised to the response to Jeffrey Bayer’s idea to combine Jefferson County with the City of Birmingham.

Jeffrey Bayer, President and CEO of Bayer Properties, suggested in a recent guest blog that…

“We forget about these surrounding pristine municipalities, and focus on an initial step to bring together the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County. They are the two largest governments, have the most in common, could generate the most in operational economic savings, and could probably eliminate the need for occupational taxes due to operational efficiencies–thereby ridding an economic model that impedes the very growth they both covet…

This is a creative and unique idea, but we assumed we would be blasted by negative commenters.

There were a few skeptics, but overwhelmingly the response to Jeffrey’s remarks on ComebackTown were positive…

This is an elegant solution. Ending the duplication of services is one great point. Eliminating occupational taxes is another. Buckminster Fuller said that old systems are replaced because people stop using them in favor of better systems. Merging Birmingham and Jefferson County government would create a far better system than the status quo and it can be done without the support of the suburban communities. Once those communities see how much better the combined system is, they might recognize the benefits of eliminating their own duplication of services and join the better system, or continue as they are. We would still have a better overall system than we currently have…

Great insight!  I used to live near Charlotte and boy did they turn that city around. It would be great to get all the affluent suburbs on board but I guess baby steps with trying to get the city and county together to start. Birmingham has great potential. Let’s hope we can capitalize on it sooner than later…

There are 30+ municipalities in Jeffco, each doing their own thing and duplicating services.  Any approach that would find a way for those who would like to join a consortium of municipalities to share services and let the others go their way would be a step in the right direction.  As municipal budget pressures increase, some of these communities will eventually see the value, even necessity, of working together.  As you say, I don’t believe the concept of a truly county-wide government will ever happen, but this could be a start.  Hope you can get some traction with this.

We don’t know if Jeffrey’s suggestion is “the idea” to fix our region, but it obviously warrants conversation.

Please consider commenting below.

Let’s not concentrate on our failures or our politicians past or present because a new government might give us a fresh start.

Cities like Nashville, Charlotte, and Austin  exude confidence and spirit.

We in Birmingham are capable of that same optimism.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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14 thoughts on “Unexpected response: Combine Jefferson County with City of Birmingham”

  1. How can a county government merge with a city? It’s two different municipalities. I can see if Birmingham swallowed up the whole of Jefferson County, but that’s not the case here. Birmingham may be the center of Jefferson County, but there are over 30 different cities in JeffCo, including Bessemer, Trussville, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, Homewood, Center Point, Gardendale, Fultondale, Fairfield, etc. Do you seriously think those cities are going to turn their keys to the city back to Birmingham? Seriously? I like the balls on this fella’ from Bayer Properties, but he needs to come up with something smarter and more applicable. And one that’s possible. Otherwise, he’s living in some alternate dream universe, some fancy utopia far away in Wonderland.

  2. This is truly the first unique idea/solution put forward on consolidation that I have heard. Thank You, Jeffrey Bayer!  You have always been an innovative thinker.

    Starting a consolidation of Bham and JeffCo will help the greatest land mass and a very large % of the population in the region.  Saves money all around and will create efficiency.  Later on, when the surrounding municipalities see it is working well some of them will come knocking to join in.

  3. *Are we talking regionalization here? This might have been all well and good about 15 years ago, but I feel it’s too late now, especially after the screw job the County Commission put on the citizens of this county with this sewer fiasco that their own constituents perpetrated. They won’t have very many people to govern in this county with this hanging over their heads for generations to come…Remember “MAPS?” Kharma’s a you-know-what, eh? Don’t blame me…I voted “Yes” in 1998…

  4. *I believe this is an excellent idea to pursue. Its not turning over to one govt entity or another. How about A newly formed Metro Council /Commission. Consolidate Birmingham and Jeffco in a format that can easily add other governments when the time is right. Metropolitan Police, Metropolitan Fire etc. Its a workable idea!

  5. This is an idea that warrants consideration, and may even be possible following the SCOTUS change on the Voting Rights Act.

    The question that begs is, “Will this create a better, stronger, more vibrant community?”  or is this like making a couple of unreformed alcoholics co-owners of a new bar?

    *

  6. *It worked well in Louisville, KY…different city but warrants consideration.  I don’t hold any hope that the suburbs would go along with it, but it’s worth exploring before shelving the idea altogether.

  7. This idea has been a great one ever since the last time we were successfully able to consolidate in 1910. Many have proposed various first steps to getting this started ever since – most recently in the early 1970’s “One Great City” movement – but all before Bayer’s suggestion included referendums that included various suburbs in the equation as well. This iterative approach makes the most sense for right now and would be much more achievable. Sometimes people lack vision, so they aren’t convinced of the worth of being part of something until they see it in reality…and even then they often don’t want to be a part of it until they realize they’re being left behind… 

  8. *This conversation reminds me of taking a Kaizen approach and the effectiveness of taking “Small Steps” to bring about BIG CHANGE! Its been used in automotive Lean Manufacturing and continuous improvement since just after WWII and it might just be the best approach to take now to make our area more attractive to insiders and outsiders alike – one small step at a time. Potentially a great place to start!

  9. It would definitely make the metro area a lot bigger and better. Birmingham is the name that outsiders knows when talking about the area especially when talking about the state of Alabama. If it’s called Birmingham-Hoover metro area, why not just call it Birmingham Metro City which includes hoover since they are classified in the name already, plus the majority of it resides in Jefferson county anyway. combine fire, police, and emergency departments into one. one mayor, one council, and one city government.

  10. It was a great idea when it was first thought of during the maps program. I feel it has chance to be more successful now with the return of many to the city of Birmingham. But the biggest draw back I see is suburban opposition. Say for instance the combining of dome neighborhoods and schools. Secondly opposition to what I see as an opportunity for a better transit system. Thirdly would be those in Birmingham who feel that combining resources would diminish the voice of some people in the city. Other than that It would be great economic help.

    1. Jeffrey’s idea is to combine unincorporate Jefferson County with the City of Birmingham leaving out Mt. Brook, Vestavia Hills, etc. This eliminates much of the objection.

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