BRILLIANT - Brilliant resident Jason Wilds, along with his family, attended the Wednesday, Aug. 22, town council meeting to see if the council would de-annex their properties from the town limits.
The Wilds first brought up this request at the Wednesday, July 25, town council meeting, where Jason Wilds told the town council that, because Brilliant had not provided them access to town water, their properties should be de-annexed from the town limits.
Jason Wilds said that he and his family, which includes his wife, Angela, and brother, Keith Wilds, and his parents, Nathan and Sheryl Wilds, were offered access to town water if they agreed to be annexed into the town limits by Brilliant Mayor Perry Franks.
All of the Wilds were present for both meetings and continued to express frustration that the town was hesitant to de-annex their properties.
Jason Wilds acted as a spokesperson for the group, asking council members why he and his family could not be de-annexed when the town offered them no services.
“Are we getting out or aren’t we?” said Jason Wilds, opening the meeting. “We were promised water and it didn’t happen.”
Councilman Charles Berryhill responded to Wilds, stating that if the town de-annexed the Wilds, it would set a precedence for other residents who request to be de-annexed.
Berryhill was not present at the July 25 meeting, where the council’s main argument against de-annexing the Wilds was that it could inordinately also de-annex others in the area who wished to remain part of the town.
“That’s not my fault, that’s his fault,” said Wilds, pointing at Franks.
Wilds maintained in both meetings that conversations between Franks and all of his family members included promises of being connected to the town’s water supply which were not fulfilled.
“Let me ask you this,” said Berryhill. “Did the town vote on getting you water?”
Wilds responded that his only communication about the issue had been with Franks.
Berryhill commented that the Wilds should have approached the council about the issue instead of only speaking with the mayor.
Wilds said that he now believed he should have had some sort of written contract between himself and the city.
“I understand that I’m only relying on the word of a person and conversations,” said Wilds.
“We were used just for you all to expand the town limits. You know good and well that the only reason we did this is for water. You know that, Perry.”
All council members except Ricky Pollard and Charles Berryhill remained quiet throughout the heated meeting, and no one made a motion to de-annex the Wilds.
“All we’re asking is to go back to the way we were. You offered services and it didn’t work out. Why would we pay the town when you didn’t give us what you promised?” said Wilds.
Franks restated what Berryhill had said earlier, that the town could lose other residents if it set a precedent of letting unhappy property owners out.
Sheryl Wilds said, “I don’t think anyone else would have the argument we have.”
Pollard, like Berryhill, voiced frustration that the Wilds had not approached the council previously.
In the previous meeting, Wilds told the council that he and his family had paid $15,000 to connect to the City of Winfield’s water, after waiting more than six years for Brilliant water.
“I have been here for just under two years and y’all haven’t come in even one time to talk about getting water,” said Ricky Pollard.
“And I shouldn’t have to!” responded Wilds. “If I offer you something, you shouldn’t have to come beg me for it.”
Berryhill told the Wilds that there were no council members still on the council that were on the council when the agreement with the Wilds was made.
“I know. You live and you learn. I wish we had more in writing,” said Wilds.
Despite that, Wilds continued to assert that they should not be forced to be part of the town and to pay town taxes when he and his family receive no services from Brilliant.
“Give me one reason why I should be required to pay taxes when you can’t offer us any services?” Wilds asked Pollard.
“I think you should have been here sooner,” Pollard responded.
“You all aren’t the only ones in our town limits that don’t receive water and garbage,” said Franks.
“Then why in the world would someone volunteer to be annexed into the town limits if it wouldn’t be offered anything?” said Wilds. “Who would just volunteer to pay town taxes?”
Franks said Wilds never told him that he and his family needed to be connected to water. He said that he and the council did not know that Wilds had connected to Winfield water until Pollard drove by the residence and noticed the work had been done.
“Well, we had waited for six years, we were done waiting,” Wilds told the council and mayor.
Franks maintained that the town had attempted to find a way to bring water to the residences and would have done more to accomplish the task if the Wilds had contacted the town prior to arranging to be connected to Winfield city water.
The frustration continued to increase, as both the town and the Wilds family argued their point-of-views.
“Is this about taxes or is this about water?” said Berryhill.
“Both,” said Wilds. He told the council that the Wilds would be pursuing the matter further in court if the council refused to de-annex them.
“The town council’s not going to let you out,” Berryhill told the Wilds. “We’re here to benefit the town. This is business, there are no hard feelings.”
“So according to you, you all aren’t going to let us out. Y’all already know the vote,” said Wilds.
“No, but I don’t think anyone here will bring up a resolution to even get it voted on,” said Berryhill.
“Well, it’s going to cost you,” said Wilds.
Brillitan Town attorney Bill Atkinson attended both meetings in order to provide both parties with information concerning the legality of the issue.
Atkinson said that he had asked the Alabama League of Municipalities about the situation.
The league’s response was that a resident could be de-annexed by either an act of the Legislature, following a civil court case, or an act of the town council.
No agreement was reached between the town and the Wilds and no action was taken on the matter.
In a followup interview, Wilds said that he and his family were willing to take the issue to court because they had been offered water and those promises, he alleges, were not fulfilled in more than six years.
“This was about water. This was only about water. I can’t imagine someone joining the town limits just to donate money to Brilliant. It’s inconceivable,” said Wilds.
“That was the most unintelligent discussion I’ve ever had.”
Wilds said that Winfield Mayor Randy Price told him that the exact same situation had happened in Winfield and the Winfield City Council, when it could not fulfill its promise, had de-annexed a resident.
Wilds said he was frustrated that the Brilliant Town Council was treating the issue as if it was such a difficult request, when to Wilds, since it has been done before in the area, it was an open-and-shut case.
“We asked why we should be made to pay taxes to a town that does nothing for us and the only answer we got was, ‘If we do it, we’re afraid someone else might want out, too,’” said Wilds.
“The wrong thing is still the wrong thing to do even if you say, ‘It’s just business.’”
Wilds said that the council members wrongfully used him and his family to expand the town borders based on promises that continue to go unfulfilled.
mandye green/ staff
Wilds: ‘We want out’
See complete story in the Journal Record.