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WATER VALLEY – Elected officials in Water Valley extended an invitation for everyone to join them for a cleanup day scheduled on Saturday, May 22. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at city hall to organize the city-wide attack on litter. Garbage bags and gloves, if available, will be provided.
“I want to encourage everyone to help clean up,” Mayor Donald Gray stressed during the monthly meeting on May 4. He said the effort will continue until noon.
Participants are requested to place bags along the streets, and aldermen will help direct the city crews to them.
“We will come by with the trucks and pick them up,” Gray explained.
The mayor also said he will reach out to different organizations in the community – garden clubs, churches and to school – to try to boost participation.
“The sheriff’s department did a great job cleaning up around the school just a little over a month ago. You go up there now and it is horrible. We have to get some garbage cleaned up,” Gray said.
Other business discussed during the May 4 meeting included:
• With only one more monthly meeting scheduled in June before the four-year terms for city officials ends, Foster thanked outgoing alderman Fred White for 32 years of service.
Foster said she had received permission from White and former Mayor Larry Hart to submit their name and information about their service for submission in the Mississippi Municipal League’s Hall of fame. Foster said the recognition is for city elected officials who served 20 years or longer.
“Thank you so much, Mr. Fred, you have done a phenomenal job,” Foster added.
• Officials agreed to keep the city auditorium on Main Street closed due to extensive work needed at the facility. Gray explained that roof problems have created substantial water damage inside the building. Citing two different bids from contractors, he said the roof replacement will cost over $30,000. The other work needed will likely push the total cost of repairs to over $50,000.
“It was built in 1984, and nothing has really been done since,” Gray said. “We have a lot of work to do to make it usable.”
The building was initially closed at the onset of the pandemic for health concerns.
• Aldermen approved an application form that can be used by a corporation, person or industry wishing to apply for an abatement on city taxes. Aldermen adopted the five-year tax abatement program in April, 2018, joining a growing list of Mississippi municipalities that offer a tax break on improvements made to existing business structures ($25,000 or more), or for eligible new construction.
Gray explained that the city had fielded a request from a new business interested in the abatement.
“It is no secret that we have been talking to Jack’s Family Restaurant for quite sometime now. They are looking for anything that might help them in their project,” Gray said as discussion on the matter got underway.
“This is exactly why we wanted to put this in place. This is an incentive to get someone to invest in Water Valley,” Ward One Alderman Kagan Coughlin said.
“Anyone who builds a new restaurant, a new building, or fixes something up, that building forever more will be taxable. If helping someone who is doing that, like the restaurant we are talking about, by slowly increasing their tax bill over five years is good for the town,” Coughlin said. “They are bringing jobs, and tax revenue of other kinds,” he added.
The abatement is staggered, with 100 percent of the new investment exempt in year one, 80 percent exempt in year two, 60 percent in year three, 40 percent in year four and 20 percent in the final year.
City Attorney Daniel Martin provided a brief overview of the application process during the meeting. The application is first submitted to the planning commission, who would review it and make a recommendation to aldermen. If aldermen approve the application, the city’s building inspector would oversee the construction
“This is the first time we are putting it in use,” Martin also reported during the meeting.
• Gray reported that Spring Hill North M.B. Church plans to sell five acres north of the church.
“They have 11 total acres, they said they are just keeping the grass cut on it. They have no future need for it,” the mayor explained. “I told them I would announce that.”
“Does that back up to the property Carothers tried to purchase?” Foster asked.
“That is the same property. That was sold to Spring Hill years ago,” Gray answered about the tract the city sold to the church.
“We have been talking about parking for Everest,” Coughlin said. “We have 70 parking spots in that lower lot, and we don’t own that lot. If we really explode with students, we are going to need a spot,” he explained about potential growth at Base Camp Coding Academy.
• Foster provided the monthly report from the Water Valley Main Street Association. She said there has been a strong response for an online economic survey as part of a planning meeting held May 11.
Foster also praised former Main Street Director Mickey Howley’s 12 years of commitment to Water Valley.
“He helped Main Street get to where it is now. He did a wonderful job. He has definitely made Water Valley a model that has been used at the state and national Main Street levels. I commend Mickey for all the work he has done for Main Street and Water Valley.