West Point making push for annexations ahead of 2020 Census

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The West Point Town Council is seen Monday night, Jan. 20, 2020. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

WEST POINT, Ala. – The Town of West Point is hoping to annex property, bringing more residents into its town limits leading into the 2020 Census.

Town Attorney Dan Willingham said, “This is the census year so if you’ve got some folks you want to add in, it is the best opportunity you will have to annex.”

The census numbers dictate how funding is distributed at the local, state and federal levels. Census numbers determine how much money the federal government sends to the states, and many states use census information to determine where to allocate resources within their own borders. With the incorporation of Berlin since the last census took place, the amount of money West Point receives could decrease, the council said.

Mayor Gerald Schafer explained who is eligible to be annexed into West Point, saying, “Their property has got to be touching property that’s already in. We can’t jump property.”

There are many advantages the Town lists for residents to be a part of the municipality. West Point residents are eligible to have AirEvac medical flight services if needed.

“If you live in the municipality and you need a flight on the helicopter from anywhere in the county, the Town pays for it,” Willingham explained.

Town Clerk Joann Jones provided a list of advantages:

  1. Taxes: Cullman County is unique in that each of the municipalities in the county receives a portion of the sales tax collected throughout the entire county, based on population in the municipality. Taxes and fees are also paid to the Town through franchise fees, car tags and TVA in lieu of taxes revenue.
  2. Police and fire: Among the public programs that an area can provide are police and fire departments. The revenues of the municipality may not be great enough to provide its own police department or fire department, but it can use funds to improve the volunteer fire department and contract with the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office for additional patrol services. If the proposed International Standardization Organization (ISO) standards are adopted, the buildings and residences in the town may have a higher ISO rating and thereby dramatically reduce the cost of homeowners’ insurance. The new state-of-the-art volunteer fire station on Alabama Highway 157 will have a positive impact on the Town’s ISO rating.
  3. Educational resources: A town can use its money to help the local schools. This help can be very noticeable in the services the school can provide locally. The Town partners with West Point School in many areas.
  4. Parks and rec: A large part of the services provided by the municipalities are the parks and recreational facilities. These facilities provide safe environments for the young, as well as the elderly. Increasingly, the town facilities provide a local place to meet and engage in sports, as well as other activities that form bonds in the town. West Point has a very robust senior center that is open and serves lunch to those present and also delivers nutritious meals to homebound citizens.
  5. Local representation: Because unincorporated areas have no legal authority of their own, the Cullman County Commission makes all the decisions regarding the services those areas will receive. A town has its own local government, elected by the area’s residents, with authority to make decisions for the area. This allows an area’s residents to have decision makers that are directly accountable to them only, rather than decision makers who are elected by the entire county.

 

Schafer said, “We don’t waste a lot of money out here. Our business license fee out here is small, 50 bucks, but the big thing is, we keep up the town. We have storm shelters and our fire department; our ISO rating is a 4 now. It’s a really good rating.”

Willingham added, “There’s a difference between being in the West Point fire district than being in the West Point municipal limits. You get a better insurance rate. As a matter of fact, economically, you’d probably be better being in the town that out of.”

Learn more about the 2020 Census at https://2020census.gov/en  and www.cullmantribune.com/2019/08/17/a-guide-to-2020-census.

Rep. Scott Stadthagen, R-Hartselle will be holding a town hall meeting in West Point Monday, Jan. 27 at 6 p.m. He will be discussing the upcoming legislative session in Montgomery and answering any questions and concerns those in the community may have. The meeting will be held at the town hall.

It is the responsibility of current the current mayor and council to set salaries for the next administration. With the deadline looming, the West Point Town Council made the decision to leave the pay the same.

The council approved the purchase of an ad for the 2020 West Point Baseball Program. The Town agreed to contribute $250 to support the school’s baseball program.

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Christy Perry

christy@cullmantribune.com