Mountain Brook stealing from Vestavia Hills

Trash cansIt was the dark of night.

My Mountain Brook friend slipped down the stairs to his basement, opened his garage door, and quietly pushed his trash container to the street.

He cautiously looked both ways and then, as quietly as possible, rolled it past three of his neighbors’ homes. He glanced to see if anyone was looking and then grabbed two garbage bags from his container and delicately threw them into a neighbor’s trash can.

Why would a Mountain Brook man do such a dastardly deed?

As my friend explained, Vestavia Hills picks up trash twice a week—Mountain Brook only once. Since he lives four houses away from Vestavia—this is a simple way for him to dispose of his smelly trash on a more-timely basis.

When I questioned his ethics…

He said I had no right to be judgmental. He pointed out that I live in Vestavia Hills, but that I often walk the Jemison Trail in Mountain Brook.

Our region is certifiably nuts

We pay for things ten times when we could pay for them once.

People tell me they are amazed to see garbage trucks from two or three different municipalities pick up trash in their neighborhood because a single neighborhood is often located in more than one city.

Garbage pick-up is not the only duplication.

I recently received this note from an angry citizen

“I once had a wreck on 280, at the light between the Summit and Whole Foods. Thank god it was only a glorified fender bender and nobody was hurt or needed an ambulance because when we called 911 we got the Cahaba Heights call center, but we were in Mountain Brook jurisdiction.”

“So they couldn’t send anybody to us for some reason. 3 times we called, and the police officer that finally showed up just happened to be driving down the road, he wasn’t sent there by a dispatcher.”

Duplication costs money

Jefferson County has sixteen emergency call centers each staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—Tuscaloosa and Mobile County, for instance, have one each.

Steve Ammons, our soon to be seated Jefferson County Commissioner, told me that the Vestavia Hills City Council made the decision five years ago to outsource its call center.

Vestavia immediately saved $1.2 million by not having to make capital purchases for new equipment and another $500,000 per year on salaries and retirement costs–another $2.5 million. ($3.7 million dollars saved to date)

And remember, there are 16 other call centers in Jefferson County.

Jefferson County has 54 fire departments and 33 police departments—plus the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

We increase taxes to pay for duplication

Irondale just implemented an occupational tax.

Last year Homewood raised its sales tax. Then Vestavia Hills followed by increasing its sales tax also.

Hoover’s expecting a large deficit and Mayor Brocato has recommended a tax increase for Hoover.

We can’t find a way to work together

A few years ago, the cities of Irondale, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and Homewood attempted to build a common jail and failed. A city councilperson from one of those suburbs told me–we’re talking about a Barney Fife/Andy Griffith type jail.

And now Homewood has announced it is going to build a new public safety headquarters in West Homewood—which will include a jail, courtroom, training and patrol rooms, and 911 dispatch—at a cost of over $21 million dollars.

As the old saying goes—you spend $20 million here and $20 million there—and soon it adds up to real money.

Unfortunately, this real money is funded by us tax payers.

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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham.

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4 thoughts on “Mountain Brook stealing from Vestavia Hills”

  1. We used to live in Hollywood – right next to the 280/31 split. One night we heard a loud explosion, and saw a car literally blowing up outside our windows. My husband, and several neighbors immediately ran out, while those of us that remained back called 911. What did each of us that called encounter? An endless list of questions trying to figure out EXACTLY where this accident was. The problem was that if you’re heading one direction, you’re in Birmingham. If you’re heading another, you’re in Mountain Brook. And move a few feet the other direction, you’re in Homewood. We had no idea if there were people in this vehicle, and the 911 rep was more focused on trying to decide which municipality should handle the situation. Fortunately, no one was injured. The driver saw his van beginning to smoke and got out before it exploded, but this could easily have not. been the case.

  2. I had a wreck near Whole Foods once, but I wasn’t the one who called 911. Fire departments from Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Rocky Ridge, and Birmingham all showed up. They all joked and laughed with each other like they knew each other like brothers. One of them told me that they all show up to the same wrecks because it’s impossible to know which jurisdiction it is until they see the wreckage for themselves.

  3. The most terrible word used to describe Birmingham and the surrounding area is potential. Given the duplication of the aforementioned services and education, (the biggest offender), there really isn’t anywhere near the potential there should be for the Birmingham Metro area. The dirty little secret why this is so is the same as it was in the 1960s.

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