By Marla Jones,Managing Editor •

RAINSVILLE, Ala. — At Monday’s meeting of the Rainsville City Council, Mayor Rodger Lingerfelt announced the final payment on the DeKalb County Schools Coliseum had been received by the DeKalb County Board of Education. The facility was originally known as the Rainsville Civic Center.

Lingerfelt stated that he wished the facility would have stayed under City control, but he was not in office at the time of the sale. Councilmember Marshall Stiefel echoed what the Mayor said.

“That was the biggest sleight-of-hand trick that had ever been pulled in the City of Rainsville,” said Stiefel. 

In a statement made to Southern Torch, Stiefel elaborated, saying, “I was not on the Council at that time, but I would have never made that deal. We short sold a building that we almost had paid for to get upside down in a building that we are spending five times the amount that it would’ve cost to run the Coliseum. It was a great deal for the County and I look forward to seeing my daughters be able to use this facility.” 

DeKalb County Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett addressed the Council regarding the transfer of ownership of the Coliseum from the City to the County. 

We reached out to Dr. Barnett to determine the facility’s current operating expenses. He stated that the Coliseum costs approximately “$69,000 per year.” This amount does not include custodial services or the director’s salary.

Councilmember Ricky Byrum, who was serving as a Councilman at the time of the sale, expressed that it all came down to liability in the City and County that regulated the sale. 

Dr. Barnett said he was, “excited to finally get some resolution on [this], so we can all begin moving on to the next step.”

Mayor Lingerfelt addressed the requests placed by Southern Torch regarding the effort to obtain financial information pertaining to the Public Building Authority (Agri-Business Center). Despite insistence by Councilmember Stiefel that the requests did not require a vote, the Mayor stated that the matter would be put up for a vote. It was approved with the exception of Councilmember Bejan Taheri, who voted no, and Stiefel, who abstained due to his role with Southern Torch as a co-host of Torch Talk. 

After Stiefel asked the Mayor if he would elaborate on the long-awaited outside audit by Gant & Croft, Lingerfelt stated that every time that they thought the auditors had everything they needed, they came up with more requests. This time, it was the tax abatements made in 2017 for RTI. 

Stiefel stated to the Southern Torch that after the last meeting of 2018, which the Mayor was absent from, he [the Mayor] signed the last payment to Gant & Croft and felt assured that the audit would be presented at this week’s meeting.

Southern Torch reached out to Gant & Croft several times but as of press time, the calls were never returned.

“What doesn’t need to be lost on the shuffle is that this is the 2016-17 audit,” said Stiefel. “We are now into the third year of our term and have yet to see any numbers.” 

In other business, the Council:

  • Accepted the retirement of Revenue Officer Richard Gibson and hired him part-time for the Tom Bevill Enrichment Center
  • Posted the job of Revenue Officer internally for fourteen days
  • Promoted Matt Crum to Sergeant within the police department
  • Hired Tony Blackwell as a patrolman for the police department
  • Amended Ordinance 03-20-2017 creating and approving Ordinance 01-07-2019 for culvert specifications

The next meeting of the Rainsville City Council will be held on Monday, January 21 at 5pm with the workshop beginning at 4:15pm.