Members of the Auburn City Council unanimously approved a month-to-month lobbying contract on Tuesday before Alabama's upcoming legislative session starts in March.
Auburn will contract with Bradley, Arant, Boult, Cummings, LLP for state governmental affairs representation services for $7,500 per month.
Megan McGowen Crouch told the council at the Tuesday meeting that "one of our biggest challenges is we don't have a presence in Montgomery year around."
"We're certainly not at all the association meetings, different gatherings up and down the state," Crouch said. "This particular firm and many other lobbyists are."
Twenty-four cities in Alabama had contracted with state lobbying firms in the previous fiscal year, according to Crouch.
"This actually gives us more power on the fly," Crouch said. "Bills change on a dime. They change within four hours. Our legislators are great about texting us from the floor, but there's other moving parts. Part of this is information. Our staff doesn't have access to legislators outside of our delegation. They can not go visit them in their offices and get in the door. As a matter of fact, a lot of signs on the door, most legislators say if you're not from their district, they may not be accepting people, but lobbyists do have relationships and can get in."
"That's a big deal to us," she continued. "I want to make sure as the seventh largest city in the state that, we have what we need to provide the best services possible to our citizens. We're also very much fighting the fragmentation of the authority in which the city council has to do the business of the city of Auburn is eroding over time by law changes."
Crouch said at the meeting that the Alabama League of Municipalities does "lobby on behalf of big picture, greater things for cities, but not specifically for what we need."
"To the League of Municipalities, they do assist on things," Crouch said. "They have over 400 plus members and they do assist cities with things, but to say that we could rely on the League to take the city of Auburn's interest and advance that when they have got 400 other cities they answer to, the answer is we can not do that. "
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