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Work Continues On Road Petition

WATER VALLEY – The group working to obtain the necessary signatures to petition a county-wide vote on switching the county to a countywide system of road administration reported they are nearing the half-way mark.

            Speaking to the Herald in mid-May, organizers Frank B. Brooks, T.G. Baker and Jeremy Warren reported they have almost 400 signatures already turned in to the Circuit Clerk’s office and more signatures on petitions still circulating in the county.

            This gives the group almost three months to garner the remaining signatures needed to bring the matter to vote. They need 15 percent of the county’s registered voters to sign the petition, or 1,500 signatures, whichever is less. The county currently has around 8,500 registered voters. If the signatures are obtained, the matter will be put to a vote in the November election.

            The county currently operates under the beat system.

            The Mississippi Association of Supervisors spells out the duties in both the unit system and beat system on its website.

            Under the unit system, the county operates a centralized road department with one central road repair and maintenance facility for the county, with additional shops being established if the Board determines a need.

            In the unit system, maintenance for the county’s roads and bridges would be overseen by a county road manager, hired by the Board.  The unit system would also abolish the county’s five road districts and maintenance would be managed based on the needs of the entire county. All real and personal property from each of the county’s five beats would become the property of the countywide system.

            This means the authority over daily workings of the roads would fall under the road manager, not each individual supervisor. The road manager would also be responsible for purchasing materials, equipment and supplies for his department. The road manager would do the hiring and firing of road department employees.

            Supervisors would adopt general policies to be followed by the administration of the county road department, including a four-year road plan for the construction and maintenance of county roads and bridges.

            Under the unit system, the county would also be required to hire a county administrator, who could be the chancery clerk or another person who has knowledgeable experience in work projection, budget planning, accounting, purchasing, cost control or personnel management. The county administrator, under policies determined by the board, would administer all county affairs falling under the control of the board and carry out the general policies of the board.

            Under the beat system, in which the county currently operates, supervisors would continue to independently manage work on roads and bridges in their beats, as well as their budgets and personnel.

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