Two Industries Request Break From City Ad Valorem Taxes

By Jack Gurner
Reporter


WATER VALLEY – Aldermen took no action on tax exemption requests from the city’s two largest employers at their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, June 3.

BorgWarner Air Fluid Systems and Water Valley Poultry, LLC, filed their requests before the June 1 cutoff date, according to Mayor Bill Norris.

Attorney John Crow, who had been waiting for about 50 minutes for the agenda item to be brought up, stood and said, “Mr. Mayor, I am here representing Water Valley Poultry. Y’all are not going to act on it tonight.”

“No sir,” the mayor answered

“Can you tell me when?” Crow asked.

“It will probably be this month,” Mayor Norris said. “This is the time for the budget. It’s a matter that’s going to be considered.”

Last year Aldermen voted unanimously to deny BorgWarner a tax that would have cut about $129,000 from the company’s city tax bill. County Supervisors granted a similar request.

The tax structure “is one of the major pieces that is causing us to be not competitive. In a six year period our taxes have gone up by 340 percent,” Plant Manager Bill Liacone told Mayor Norris and the Board at a special called meeting last year after the denial

“We have a couple of years to get our cost in line to be successful so we can bring business in and perpetuate the plant,” Liacone warned.

Other Actions

At the end of three hours of meeting in both open and closed sessions, the board voted to hire a part-time employee for the fire department and to advertise three full-time positions in the street department.

The vote came after an hour and 45 minute executive session during which several city department heads and one employee were called into the meeting room for brief periods.

The hirings are to help offset the continuing loss of city workers. Former employees have said that low pay and low morale are major factors causing employees to leave Water Valley city jobs. A firefighter who now works for another fire department said that although he liked working here, he got a considerable salary boost in another town.

Earlier in the evening, during open session, the board discussed the qualifications for the job of building inspector, zoning inspector, and flood plain administrator. The “three hats” position is yet to be filled and city officials don’t know if the job will be part-time or full-time. The salary is also in question.

Alderman Sherry Martin asked, “Does this job take care of enforcing our codes?”

“As it is setup now, it would be to enforce the zoning ordinances, to facilitate implementation of the comprehensive plan, building inspector as well as the flood plain ordinance,” said Board Attorney David Burns. “It doesn’t specifically speak to any other ordinances other than the international building code which comes within the parameters of the building inspector position.”

“I just wanted to make sure that this person knew what they were getting into,” Martin commented.

“Two things that are not addressed in here that I don’t think have ever been resolved is weather or not this would be a full time or part time position and what the compensation will be,” Attorney Burns added. “This was to set forth the duties and what aspects of the city ordinances were to be addressed. This person wearing three hats, if you will.”

“We’ve got to figure out what the pay is going to be,” said Alderman Tommy Swearengen. “We haven’t got the funds for it.”

Mayor Bill Norris said, “We can get the qualifications anyway.”

After a motion, the board voted unanimously to accept the qualifications.

While the building inspector and zoning inspector positions are important, the flood plain administrator position is a vital component to the city being accepted to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),

According to NFIP officials, a community must adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance that regulates development in the community’s floodplain. The two fundamental objectives of the NFIP are to ensure that new buildings will be free from flood damage; and to prevent new developments from increasing flood damages on existing properties.

During the 68-minute portion of the meeting that was open to the public, the board took the following additional actions:

• Aldermen voted to allow AT&T to put optical fiber cable underground on city right-of-way along Wise St. from Central St. to the Hwy. 7 bypass. Optical fiber cables are used to transmit information at high rates and long distances.

• Mayor Bill Norris received permission to attend and act as voting delegate at the annual Mississippi Municipal League conference June 22-25 in Biloxi.

• The board accepted a $17,894 bid from Goodwin Construction, LLC for a 20×40 foot building for the soccer fields at the Crawford Sports Complex. Alderman Sherry Martin made a motion to accept Goodwin’s quote and get started on the building “right away.”

• Aldermen voted to purchase the 161 substation from TVA for $1 after Electric Department Manager Joe Newman explained that Water Valley was the only one of 158 distributors who doesn’t own their substation.

“It will mean more responsibility for us, but it will also mean more revenue and some room to move forward,” Newman said.

Newman was also given permission to sell as surplus property some solar panels that were once used to provide power to light the Water Valley signs at the entrances to the city.

• The board voted to accept the quote of $7497 for a Model 800 mosquito sprayer from Clark Mosquito Control of Olive Branch. Alderman Swearengen voted against the motion.

During discussion of the purchase, Swearengen commented, “In my opinion it is just a waste of money.”

“We’ve got to do something to eradicate them,” Mayor Norris said.

“You’re not going to eradicate them,” Swearengen added with a chuckle. “Is it compulsory that we spray?”

“We don’t have a choice, we’ve have to spray or do some alternative to spraying,” Norris said.

According to Norris, the spraying machine currently in use was purchased for $50 used in the late 1980s. “It’s still going,” he said. “But, it’s costing too much to fix.”

Street Department Supervisor Mike Scroggins, who has attended seminars on mosquito control, added that a combination of spraying and public education would be needed to effectively address the problem.

• Aldermen paid the Burns Law Firm $1951.40 for the month of May.

• The board voted to advertise for quotes on a new piece of grave digging equipment at the cemeteries. Alderman Charlie Harris voted against saying that he was for contracting grave digging.

The current equipment is getting old and the width of the backhoe is a problem when digging in areas where headstones are close together.

“We’re running out of move around room in the cemetery,” said William Beard, supervisor of the Cemeteries and Parks Department. “We need something that will get into the cemetery and not mess the cemetery up.”

• The board voted to reappoint Dollie Henderson to the Water Valley Housing Authority Board for five years and also to accept a resolution from Barron Caulfield of the housing authority proclaiming Water Valley Housing America month.

• The aldermen voted to apply for a hazard mitigation grant for emergency sirens and a generator to power the city’s water pumps and sewage lift stations.

• The board approved naming a gravel road off South Main Street near the city limits Johnson Creek St.

 

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CITY OF WATER VALLEY BOARD MEETING

June 3, 2008

6:30 PM

AGENDA

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1. Call Meeting to Order
2. Approval of Agenda
3. Approval of Minutes
4. AT & T – Approval to put Fiber Cable on Wise St from Central
5. Mayor Norris to attend MML
6. Quotes on additional soccer field building
7. Accept qualifications for Building/Zoning Inspector
8. Electric Dept – TVA Substation
9. Mosquito Sprayer Quotes
10. Burns Law Firm Invoice
11. Cemetery Dept – Advertise for Equipment
12. Tax Exemption Requests:     Borg Warner Air Fluids Systems
                                                 Water Valley Poultry
13. Freddie Folson
14. Water Valley Housing Authority : Reappointment of Dollie Henderson
15. Hazard Mitigation Grant for purpose of purchasing new warning siren and generator through MEMA
16. Street Name in south end of city limits

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EXECUTIVE SESSION:  To Discuss Personnel Matter, and Prospective real estate transaction.

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