City Budget Approved Wednesday

Water Valley Alderman review the city’s 2009-2010 budget during a public hearing held last Tuesday, Sept. 1. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The City’s $2,708,434 budget for the upcoming fiscal year was the topic of a public hearing at the beginning of the regular monthly meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Anticipated revenues for the next budget year are expected to be down more than $39,000 from last year while expenditures are up by $52,541. But, Mayor Larry Hart emphasized there’ll be no increase in the current millage rate of 37 mills.

At the public hearing, Hart took time to explain several items that he said, “may be something that you are not used to seeing that may be a little confusing.”

He directed Aldermen to look in the expenditures section under general government (administration) for a line item called contractual services that he said is a little misleading. “We would probably do better to call that services and charges.”

The contractual services line item under administration covers legal and accounting services along with other items such as architects, insurance, utilities, etc., according to Hart.

The Mayor also noted that under special fund revenue there is an entry of $21,000 received from rentals. He explained that those funds came from renting a storage building on the old Bondafoam property to BorgWarner and a portion of the Big Yank building to Valley Tool.

Hart said that by law the Board had to wait one week from the public hearing to adopt the final budget and set the millage. “So, that will be our next step,” he said and asked Aldermen to attend a brief session on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 3 p.m.

He then concluded the public hearing and began the agenda for the month’s regular meeting starting with a request from the Town and Country Garden Club.

“Those ladies do a lot of work over here in the park across the street,” Hart said. “Sometimes it’s called the downtown park, sometimes it’s called the Magnolia Park, and sometimes it’s called the Railroad Park. They are recommending to us that we name this park across the street officially the Railroad Park.”

He explained that the group is working on a project and needs for it to be officially named. “Personally, that tickled me to death. You know my railroad vintage.”

Alderman voted to officially name the property Railroad Park.

Among other actions at the Sept. 1 meeting, the Board of Aldermen:

• Authorized a cash requisition of $2071.09 for Baker Street Park project payments. The three invoices, as read by the Mayor, are: Southern Pipe and Supply, $971.09 for a frostproof water fountain; Jeffcoat Construction, $800 for installation of a canopy donated by Mechanics Bank on a piece of playground equipment; and A & D turf, $300 for sod to go around the “tennis courts.” Since there are no tennis courts at Baker Street Park, the Mayor probably meant basketball courts.

• Heard reports from the Mayor regarding “some things we worked on last meeting.” In the first, Hart said that a situation had come up regarding the ammonia nitrogen perimeter in the City’s wastewater permit. He explained that the EPA and the Mississippi DEQ have decided they want cities to meet the stringent perimeter.

“There’s not enough flow in Otuck (Otuckalofa Creek) where we go in with our discharge to accommodate the level of ammonia nitrogen that we’re putting in there,” Hart said. “It can kill some type of bugs and organisms that’s in that water that EPA doesn’t want killed at this time. That’s deep enough for me.”

Hart added that the process to correct the problem is called denitrification and it would be a topic of discussion over the next few months.

“A few years back, the poultry plant and the City of Water Valley hired an environmental firm out of Virginia, a fellow named Steve Pond,” the Mayor said and added that Pond did a good job at the time of analyzing what was going on in the sewage lagoon system.

Hart said that the alternative as suggested by MDEQ was a mechanical filtering system with an $800,000 price tag. “We certainly don’t won’t to go there.”

“We believe probably $6000 to $8000 a year would get us close,” the Mayor said of the chemical treatment alternative that would be put into effect with the help of Pond’s firm.

“We’ve got approximately three years to complete this process,” Hart said.

The Mayor suggested that the Board vote to retain Pond Environmental Services “in case we hit something we really need to move on.” Aldermen voted to hire Pond.

Hart then moved to the next report regarding the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system. He said that the City is now under a requirement for 24-hour continuous monitoring of the chlorine residue in the drinking water. “There’s no problem with it,” he emphasized.

Along with monitoring the chlorine levels, the system will also keep track of other areas of the water system. The City faces an end of September deadline to show a “good faith effort” to install the system with a price tag of up to $150,000. Part of the cost could be covered by a grant.

In his next report, Hart explained the work currently underway on Town Creek. “We’ve cleaned out all three of our major boxes (box culverts). We’ve gotten over a hundred loads of debris and sand out of those boxes.”

The Street Department was responsible for the work. “I’m tickled to death we got out of there with no snakebites,” the Mayor added.

Finally, the Mayor reported on the flood plain meeting that was held Aug. 27. He noted that there are new areas shown as being in the flood plain that may not be correct.

He said the new map does not take into account flood control work performed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in the 1980s to control flooding in Water Valley. “They don’t have some of the information they need in relation to the two holding dams north of town and the box culvert and the widening of Town Creek.”

The Mayor added that the City would really be in trouble if water were to rise in some of the areas shown on the map. “We need a good source of gopherwood if some of those places flood,” he said, making a Biblical reference to the substance from which Noah’s ark was constructed.

• Recessed until Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. to vote on the budget.

Aldermen Donald Gray, Bobby Cox, and Phillip Tallant were present at the meeting. Fred White and Larry Bell were absent. The combination public hearing and board meeting lasted for just over 22 minutes.

The next regular monthly meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 6, beginning at 6:30 in the boardroom at City Hall.

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