By William Browning
WATER VALLEY, Miss. – City residents should expect monthly garbage rates to jump from $9 to $10.50 on August 11. Commercial rates will also increase, anywhere from $8 to $10 monthly.
At the last Board of Aldermen meeting (July 3), aldermen voted to raise the rates in order to offset a $23,000 deficit the city’s sanitation department finds itself in. As for reasons for the deficit, the board cited the rising cost of diesel, increased labor and equipment costs, and the fact that the city now has to pay ($5,000 a-year, according to Mayor Bill Norris) to dispose of its garbage.
A breakdown of the new commercial rates is as follows: a $20 fee for offices; a $30 fee for churches; a $40 fee for commercial retail; a $55 fee for drug stores; and a $60 fee for grocery stores. (Alderman Fred White, who abstained from the initial vote – which would have enabled the rate change to take place immediately, without publication – asked specifically of the proposed change, “On the list, how do garages fall?” City Attorney David Burns told him garages will have to pay a $40 fee under the new ordinance.)
Along with the rates changes, dumpster pickups will be $36 dollars for those picked up once a-week, and $378 for those picked up six times a-week.
Other business conducted at the meeting included:
• The board voted to adopt a new flood ordinance. The ordinance was drawn up and approved by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, working with City Attorney Burns on the project.
The ordinance deals with what type of construction can be conducted in flood zones.
Attorney Burns said that the ordinance allows for the city to be included in the national flood insurance program.
• The board voted to set a $250 cap on transient licensing fees. The fee allows a permit that will enable a vendor to set up within the city limits for 90 days.
Vendors will also be forced to adhere to health department qualifications and to city zoning ordinances.
• The board voted to pay Attorney Burns for work done in June.
After presenting the board with the $3,741.15 invoice, he acknowledged the hefty sum. Burns told the board that there was “a lot of work” to be done during the “busy month” of June. He mentioned his work on the transient vendor licensing fee, on the legal issues of the Main Street Association, on the Crime Stoppers ordinance, on the new flood zone ordinance and on the Farmer’s Market issue.
• Before the board slipped into executive session (“for purposes of discussing personnel matters, prospective real estate transaction, expansion of an industry”) Alderman White addressed the board.
“(The park on Baker Street) has seen some improvement,” said White. At the previous meeting White had expressed concern over criminal activity he believes has been taking place at the park. He went on to thank Chief King for increased patrols in the area.
But White still sees room for improvement at the park – which is actually situated in Alderman Sherri Martin’s ward.
“We need some playing equipment over there for the kids,” said White, adding that the city hasn’t done anything there since “the early 1990s.”
Mayor Norris assured White that the city has equipment upgrades for that park in its future. The mayor said the city has hopes on obtaining a matching grant for the project.
“There is no certain color; everybody uses that park,” noted White, before asking the city (for the second time) to look into prices on surveillance cameras for the park.