By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – The current Mayor and Board of Aldermen met for their last regular “first Tuesday” session on June 2 at City Hall.
Returning Ward Two Alderman Fred White will join five new faces for the July meeting.
Present at the June meeting were Mayor Bill Norris, Aldermen White, Ward Three Alderman Betty Ruth Swearengen, Ward Four Alderman Sherry Martin, and Alderman At Large Lance Clement. Ward One Alderman Charlie Harris was absent.
The current board tabled two tax exemption requests for the new board to tackle. One is from from Metrocast, the company currently providing cable television service and the other is from BorgWarner.
The BorgWarner application listed property valued at $14,383,120. The form includes a space in which applicant is to list the number of jobs created by the newly acquired property or expansion. On that line BorgWarner officials wrote, “maintain existing.”
Before moving on to the agenda items, Mayor Norris told the group that the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has preliminarily approved a $15,000 household hazardous waste pickup grant.
“Hope we will get the grant so we can get rid of our tires, batteries, aerosol cans, and paint cans that have been collecting in our homes,” the Mayor said.
Among other actions the Board of Aldermen:
• Paid Burns Law Firm invoice of $1,233.24;
• Accepted a bid of $30,782.20 from Grenada Electric for an 80 kW generator for the sewage lagoon;
• Approved a five-year contract with the Jeff Davis Water Association. The contract, which takes effect July 1, states that the City will continue to provide water as long as the association maintains their non-profit status and all the requisite certifications, according to Board Attorney David Burns. “Just to provide for their future planning, they know they have a supply of water,” said Burns;
• Agreed to advertise for bids for the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Date Acquisition) system that has to be installed at the wastewater treatment plant by Dec. 1, 2009. The monitoring is one of several new requirements by the EPA;
• Passed a resolution on an earlier tax exemption request from BorgWarner which has passed scrutiny by the State Tax Commission. The exemption was the first of the original tax breaks requested by BorgWarner;
• Agreed to allow local painting contractor Terry Allen to paint two bridges in town at no charge to the City. Allen, an unsuccessful candidate for Ward Four Alderman, told the Herald earlier that he planned to do some projects to, “give back something for all that Water Valley had done for him.”
The bridge discussion prompted Alderman Fred White to ask when the City was going to start work on the Martin Street bridge. White had suggested last November that the bridge should receive attention soon since it had been “on the front burner” longer that the others.
“It’s the next one coming up,” said Street Department Superintendent Mike Scroggins;
• Agreed to replace the controller in the scoreboard at the high school baseball field that had been damaged by an apparent lighting strike. Mayor Norris was able to work on the scoreboard and get it operating, but he said that the wire from the press box was damaged beyond repair.
Aldermen held a discussion on who was responsible for repair at the City owned field. A fund had been set up in the City Clerk’s office to cover routine maintenance, but it is currently depleted, Aldermen were told.
In the end, Aldermen voted to purchase a $1,264 wireless controller from Rainey Electronics of Little Rock;
• Approved the purchase of a nine-foot slide for $5776.40 under the Mississippi Development Authority grant for Baker Street Park. “That’s takes up most of the funding on our grant, but we still have a dollar or two left for emergencies,” said Mayor Norris.
Alderman White asked how much longer before the park reopened. Mayor Norris said that June was the original target date, but there were a few little things left to do;
• Authorized repair of the Street Department’s “trash loader” that is expected to cost approximately $3,200. The department’s repair budget was originally set at $10,000, but about $18,000 has been spent so far;
• Heard from Attorney Burns who said that it had been a pleasure working with the Mayor and Board for the past three years. “Everybody here brings something unique to the table,” Burns said.
“My biggest regret is that Tommy (Swearengen) was not able to serve the remainder of his term. He brought a common sense approach and sense of humor to it all,” Burns added.
He then told Alderman Betty Ruth Swearengen that she would have made him proud in the way that she had served. “I think you would make a good alderman full time if you ever decided.”
“I look forward to working with the new board,” he continued, “if that is the new board’s will. It has been an honor working with you guys. Just wanted to thank y’all for the opportunity.”
“Likewise,” responded the board members;
• Went into executive session at 7:06 and returned to regular session 25 minutes later at 7:31.
• Hired Marcus White as a full-time employee in the Water and Sewer Department;
• Authorized Water and Sewer Department Superintendent Morris Surrette to hire a part-time employee for the department;
• Suspended a Sanitation Department employee for one week without pay;
• Adjourned at 7:33 p.m.
The next regular meeting of the board will be July 7 at 6:30 in the boardroom at City Hall.