WESTOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Community members are weighing options about possibly becoming part of the proposed Chelsea school system.
Westover held a community meeting Tuesday night to gather resident feedback on the issue that has many divided in Shelby County. Chelsea is looking at annexing several communities nearby and working on a feasibility study to see if it’s even possible, but right now many residents are not crazy about a change.
“That’s why we want to get the citizens’ input because we can’t think of all the questions and all the concerns,” Mayor Larry Riggins said.
About a dozen people went up to the mic to ask questions and voice concerns. Most speakers were not in favor of leaving unincorporated Shelby County.
“I think the county does a great job and I would like to see it stay that way,” Westover resident Patrick Bennett said.
Many are wondering about what a tax increase could look like, others suggested private and home school options outside public education. But some residents said property values could go down if things stay as is.
“I don’t have a kid in the school system anymore, I don’t, I don’t mind paying a little extra taxes to keep the value of my home up and that’s worth a lot,” Westover resident Ray Franklin said.
A sense of community pride still holds the city together. In 2001, Westover became incorporated and Riggins said is now much more financially stable.
“I can certainly understand the concern that folks have for the identity, but we’re concerned about economic development and we’re concerned about our kids,” Riggins said. “Just be patient please until we can find out the facts of what’s needed here and what we will be doing and hopefully they’ll make the next meeting.”
Riggins said this meeting is only the beginning and would not happen before July of 2023.
A change would require a community vote from Westover and Chelsea following city ordinances. The Westover City Council will now break up into committees to work on addressing people’s questions and start answering them in the next four to six weeks. Chelsea’s feasibility study is scheduled to come back mid to late October.