Mayor & council at odds over $2.58 million dollar lawsuit settlement

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — City councilors are upset that Mayor William Bell settled a $2.58 million dollar lawsuit without their consent or approval.

The city settled a lawsuit with contractor Chris Woods who had been hired a few years ago to complete construction on a few projects including the city’s west police precinct, but in 2013 he was fired from those projects, by which this lawsuit came about.

The judge ordered that the city pay Mr. Woods $2.58 million dollars in the settlement. However, the problem city council has is that Mayor Bell went on to approve the huge payout without consent of city councilors.

CBS42 spoke with council president Johnathan Austin who said this exudes a lack of transparency and accountability.

“In the roles assigned to the council, we are the fiduciary agents to the city,” he said.

“The real issue is we were elected to do a job and our job is to be the fiduciary agents of the city, and we can’t do that if the mayor is not following the law,” Austin stated.

However, the mayor’s office said they felt they did not need to have consent or approval because it was a required decree judgement of the court.

However, the law does state in section 2-3-27 that “any amount exceeding $10,000.00,must have the approval of the mayor and any five members of the city council – provided, however, that a reasonable effort is made to notify all councilmembers of the terms at least a week before the next scheduled meeting…” —  which city council says never happened.


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