GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - A member of the Gadsden City Council says the council should do more to fight COVID-19.
Councilor Deverick Williams made his comments after a pre-council meeting, in which council members discussed trash pickup, garbage collection and grass cutting at great length, along with upcoming budget issues.
Trash has been piling up on street sides in Gadsden as people stuck at home due to COVID-19 related shutdowns have been working on spring cleaning or home improvement projects.
Williams says before the council spends money on those items, it should first buy personal protective equipment for the city's first responders and the area's health care workers.
"Before I want a nickel of my taxpayer dollars spent on garbage, on trash, on grass cutting, or anything of that nature, I would like to see the critical needs at our hospitals, our assisted living facilities, our nursing homes, the PPE for our first responders, those are our critical needs. That's where our spending needs to go first," Williams said at the end of the meeting. "To start a conversation about garbage, trash and grass cutting in the midst of a global pandemic is, to me, really irresponsible."
Two other council members--Jason Wilson and Thomas Worthy--disputed his argument.
"I think to say 'hospitals or trash' is a bit of a false dichotomy," Wilson said. "I don't think it has to be an either/or situation."
Wilson agreed with COVID-19 and the fight against it being the biggest issue of every town in America, but says, “It’s not a scenario to where every dollar used to spend on grass cutting would have gone to buy masks for hospitals.”
"It's important to my people and I get complaints and I'm going to bring it to you all," said Worthy. He said many of his constituents complain about rats and snakes coming into their yards from vacant homes and lots on which the grass needs to be cut, and said a snake kept showing up in his own yard, next to a vacant lot.
Still, the council, which will hear a report on the city’s finances next week, are expecting to make tough choices on cuts in the future.
One council member, Kent Back, says the city will likely lose “millions,” partly due to businesses being idled by COVID-19 and partly due to the announcement Goodyear will soon close its east Gadsden plant.