FLORENCE — Lauderdale County sent a letter to Mayor Steve Holt this week stating no opposition to the city moving the Confederate monument from the Lauderdale County Courthouse, but city officials said they want it in the form of a resolution from the County Commission.
The letter from Lauderdale County Commission Chairman Danny Pettus refers to a letter from Suzanna E. Rawlins, president of the Alabama Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy that declares the city owns the statue.
Rawlins stated in the letter that the United Daughters gave the city the statue in the early 1900s.
The county had reached out to state Sen. Tim Melson, R-Florence, to find out who owns the monument, and Melson returned with the letter from Rawlins, Pettus said.
Pettus said he wrote a letter to Mayor Steve Holt on Monday. It confirms the city owns the statue and states: "... the county would not have any basis for making a claim for damages to the statue if said damages occurred during the moving process."
"It is on our property but they have our permission," Pettus said Thursday.
He said there was no formal commission vote on the matter, but the four commissioners agreed to the letter and Pettus signed it.
The city has since written a proposed resolution for the County Commission to pass. It states that Rawlins said the city owns the monument and the commission agrees.
It goes on to state the commission resolves that the city is "authorized to enter onto the Lauderdale County Courthouse property to remove the monument and that Lauderdale County hereby holds the city harmless for any damage done to the monument."
"It has to be a duly adopted resolution," Holt said Thursday. "We gave it to them in resolution form.
"It basically says what Danny says in the letter, but it's just like if I wrote a letter it has no authority behind it without the council's vote. The commission has to adopt a resolution like this one that was drafted."
Holt and Pettus agree the city would be liable if any damages were done to the courthouse property during the process of moving the monument.
Holt said he assumes the city would make sure the company that moves the monument would be properly insured to pay for any damage.
The mayor said earlier this week he would propose that the council approve moving the monument at its July 7 meeting. However, he said since the next County Commission meeting isn't until July 13, he probably would have to wait until the county passes a resolution.
If the commission does so on July 13, Holt indicated he would make the proposal to the council at its July 21 meeting.