By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
The Picayune City Council on Tuesday voted to issue $3 million in utility system revenue bonds to upgrade and extend the city’s natural gas lines. The city runs its own natural gas system.
City Clerk Amber Hinton told the council the city was taking the cheapest route possible in issuing the bonds. She said rates are estimated to run two to three percent, and officials will be able to get an accurate fix on rates after bids.
She also told the council that the bonds would be paid for out of the utility fund, and that no tax increase or increase in utility gas rates would result from issuance of the bonds.
“The way we are doing it is the least expensive way,” she told the council.
The council just absorbed more land and residents when the city limits were extended. That requires an extension of the gas lines and utilities into those areas, and the city also faces removing a large portion of old cast iron gas lines that officials think are leaking, causing a loss of gas in that portion of the system.
Councilman Wayne Gouguet asked Hinton about the way the bonds would be paid back. “The bond will be paid back under the existing rate structure through the utility budget?” asked Gouguet.
“There is no anticipated rate increase expected,” Hinton replied to Gouguet’s question.
Public Works Director Eric Morris told the council that engineers drawing up the project say their plans are from 75 to 80 percent complete.
Hinton said she expected the bonds to be retired over 15 years so the city could get better rates.
On another matter, the council approved a resolution calling for redistricting the city council wards. Specifically, the agenda item read, “Consider approval of the Resolution of City of Picayune, Mississippi, to adopt criteria for redistricting of City Councilman Wards; to authorize consultants to draft new ward lines; and to hold public hearings to seek public input on any proposed ward lines and the redistricting process.”
Public hearings on proposed new wards will be held on Dec. 4 and Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at City Hall chambers. The new plan when adopted will be submitted to the U.S. Justice Dept. for approval.
There are five wards in the city, and one councilman from each ward is elected to represent constituents in that ward. The mayor, who also has a vote on the council, is elected at-large.
Federal law requires redistricting by government entities every 10 years after the census to make adjustments required by population declines and increases in wards and districts.