State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine) is warning of an upcoming vote from the Baldwin County Commission to allow certain municipalities to tax, police and regulate unincorporated subdivisions.
Baldwin County is a blooming area in the state with many unincorporated subdivisions that do not fall under any specific municipality.
On Wednesday, the Baldwin County Commission will vote to allow several municipalities within the county to take regulatory control of smaller subdivisions.
Elliott told 1819 News that granting municipalities authority to police and regulate citizens that did not elect them to power is "inherently un-American."
"Back in 2021, I passed legislation that dealt with police jurisdiction and extra-territorial jurisdictions, along with other things," he said. "It was a tough bill to get done, and it ended up passing with full support from the League of Municipalities and the League of County Commissioners. My concern was that these cities had the right in Alabama to tell the County that the municipality was going to exercise this extra-territorial jurisdiction in the county. Not the county saying, 'y'all can have it if you want it,' but the city was telling them they were going to take it. My concern with that was, you basically have people taxed, policed and regulated by folks they can't vote for, and that is inherently un-American."
According to Elliott, his 2021 bill included a small stipulation to allow county commissions to grant certain municipalities regulatory and policing authority. That is the stipulation the Baldwin County Commission is trying to utilize.
"What we did was flip that on its head and basically say that counties were in charge of the county outside of municipal limits, and cities were in charge within municipal limits," Elliott said. "I did provide a caveat that if a county wanted to give municipalities their authority in certain areas, they could. That was mainly focused on very rural counties, counties that did not have building code enforcement, counties that did not have any subdivision regulation."
"If I'm in an unincorporated area, and I've got a subdivision proposed next to me, I'm going to argue that this either should or should not happen to a city that doesn't represent me and to city officials that I can't vote for," Elliott said. "And they don't really have to listen to me, and a lot of times they don't."
Elliott was confused why county officials would want to grant their responsibilities to municipalities when the County has all the means to regulate subdivisions, not under a municipal government.
"The county has a bang-up building code enforcement department and some really strict building codes, so there's really no reason," Elliott explained. "And the county can handle those responsibilities."
In acknowledgment of the Fourth of July holiday, Elliott took to social media to encourage constituents to contact the Baldwin County Commission and compared its efforts to regulate unincorporated subdivisions with the "taxation without representation" that spurred the Revolutionary War.
"On July 4th, 1776, brave men rejected the concept of taxation without representation, of being governed by individuals for whom they could not vote and, in general, being taxed, policed and regulated by authorities with whom they had little redress," Elliott's post read. "Ironically, on July 5th, your County Commission is poised reverse its previous course and enter into contracts for some municipalities in Baldwin County to do the very thing our founding fathers rejected."
None of the Baldwin County Commissioners immediately responded to queries from 1819 News, and the commission is slated to meet on Wednesday, July 5,
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