Future of Fairfield uncertain if city can't replace tax revenue from Walmart

Future of Fairfield uncertain if city can't replace tax revenue from Walmart

FAIRFIELD, AL (WBRC) - It's a tough choice ahead for the city of Fairfield. Tuesday night Mayor Kenneth Coachman said the city has two options when it comes to the financial issues: file bankruptcy or be annexed.

Coachman made the announcement at a Town Hall Meeting held at the city's community center.

"You don't have no other way. You only have a financial field and if you cannot fill it that way, you'll have to look at other alternatives. Please understand me that annexation is not where I'm going. I have not made any contact with anybody, regarding annexation," he said.

Coachman said the city needs on average $125, 000 a month to keep to keep the city afloat.

That would account for the month the city lost when Walmart closed. For example, the city received about $105,000 in sales tax revenue from Walmart last February. Now the city is looking for ways to replace that funding.

If they can come up with that, Coachman said Fairfield could avoid filing for bankruptcy or being annexed into another city. Coachman took suggestions from the people in the packed gym on how the city could handle this financial crisis.

In the crowd, Alabama Representatives Merika Coleman and Rod Scott. Scott said he supported bankruptcy, saying it wouldn't take long, but Coachman disagreed. He said it's a timely process in which the city doesn't have time for. He said the city financial needs are immediate.

Scott also suggested dissolving into the county and allowing the sheriff's office to service Fairfield as a cost cutting measure. City council president, Darnell Gardner said he supports that idea as a cost cutting measure.

"We got to do what we got to do. We're in a crisis. We got to move fast," said Gardner.

Many people spoke passionately about Fairfield. Herman Carmes was one of them. He held a sign that read Save Fairfield. He believed the issues is larger than money.

"This is not a financial problem this is a leadership problem and the mayor who is elected as the official leader has to have a vision to lead this city. He hasn't done what was designated for him to do," Carmes said.

Others on  hand supported the idea of merging with another city like Birmingham. Fairfield resident Arlechia Forest said it could only make Fairfield better.

"Birmingham has its problem to but if they took over because they are a larger city than we are I think it would be good for us. It would make Birmingham larger and downsize us because we're fading away anyway," she explained.

Mayor Coachman said he doesn't yet have a real resolution to the problem. He did tell WBRC the city will make next Friday's payroll, but doesn't know what will happen next. Coachman said it's going to take a miracle to help Fairfield's financial problems.

The council is expected to meet next week to talk cost cutting measures as a way to fix the city's finances.

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