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As the City of Roanoke continues what has become a laborious process of finalizing rules for its recreation center, the City Council heard from city attorney Clay Tinney Monday regarding one specific item being debated for those rules.
The topic in question was whether the city could ban guns at the recreation center as part of its rules. The short answer from Tinney: no, they can’t. The State of Alabama recently passed legislation making it legal for concealed carry of pistols without a permit. That legislation does have a handful of exceptions, but none of those appear to apply to the city’s rules about the recreation center.
According to Tinney, only schools can prohibit concealed carry of guns, and that exception applies to school-sponsored athletic events. But almost all athletic events that take place at the recreation center fall under the authority of the city, not the schools, so that exception does not apply to the recreation center.
Tinney said the only way the law would allow the city to restrict weapons in the recreation center building is if there is a manned security checkpoint at the door that can search people as they come in, similar to what takes place at the Randolph County courthouse in Wedowee. That would require the city to hire an off-duty police officer or some other qualified personnel to be on duty whenever the recreation center opens its doors.
According to Mayor Jill Patterson-Hicks security may be called upon during high-traffic times at the recreation center such as league game nights, but the city does not expect to institute a full-time security checkpoint whenever the building’s doors are open to the public.
The inability to prohibit guns would also appear to apply to non-school sanctioned events at school-related facilities like Wright Field or the city’s softball fields, although Tinney said the particulars of some of those scenarios create a “gray area” in the law. Wright Field is home to youth league football games in the fall, but that property’s ownership is shared between the City of Roanoke and the Roanoke City Schools system. And youth league football games are not school-sponsored events.
Dump truck buy back program
The City Council at Monday’s meeting voted to enter the city into an agreement with Truckworx buy-back program, which the city plans to use for the purchase of a dump truck and/or a new boom truck.
The program takes advantage of the city’s exemption from federal excise tax to create equity in the purchase of the needed trucks and sell them back at a profit.
Under the program, the city would buy the truck, but would not have to make payments for the first 12 months of its ownership of the truck. The program then allows the city to sell the truck for more than what it originally “paid,” creating a profit of $20,000 or more on the transaction.
The way this is possible – and legal – is that the city (along with all governmental entities) is exempt from the standard 12 percent excise tax on such purchases. That means that, for example, on a piece of equipment that would cost $260,000 on the open market, the city would only pay roughly $230,000. The Truckworx program facilitates that purchase and then arranges to sell the equipment on the open market after the 12-month no-payment period. Truckworx takes its fee from the positive sales margin and the city keeps the rest. In many cases the difference is more than enough to cover the expenses that the city puts out to operate the equipment in the 12 months that it has it.
According to councilmember Tim Jacobs, Randolph County has taken advantage of this program as well.