By Butch Weir, Editor, The Poplarville Democrat
The Picayune Item
The tight economic situation gripping the nation is playing out locally as the Poplarville Board of Aldermen grapple with emergency repairs to city streets.
Mayor Billy Spiers brought the matter up when he told the board that the city’s general fund budget may need amending to allow purchase of more asphalt. A number of emergency street repairs and patches since the adoption of the current budget last October have depleted the city’s asphalt inventory and drained street maintenance funds.
City Maintenance Director Sam Hale said normally a pothole patch doesn’t need a large amount of asphalt but some repairs have extended to as much as 70 or 80 feet.
“That’s what’s depleted my budget; this stuff that wasn’t budgeted for,” Hale said.
Aldermen asked if there were temporary fixes for problems such as potholes until the new budget cycle started in October. Alderman Bill Winborn asked about the possibility of repairs using a gravel mixture but Hale said pothole repairs had to be done with asphalt.
Tight budget management has kept general fund finances under control and the city has a recommended three month reserve in the general fund, City clerk Jody Smith said, “but if we continue to spend we’re not going to have too much reserves.”
Spiers said the city’s financial situation was “not in a real pickle right now but …. We need to watch our nickels and pennies.”
This prompted Winborn to ask if the water extension along Mississippi Highway 26 East was in jeopardy. Smith said the funds for that project come out a separate account that could not be used for general fund needs. Street maintenance, on the other hand, does come out of the general fund.
Arrangements for funds for the water line extension have already been made and the board passed a motion to engage Walker & Associates as the project engineering firm. The proposed cost for the extension is estimated at $176,000, Spiers said, but it could be less because there may be more companies competing for the work due to the economic slowdown
In other matters aldermen:
— Received a report from Guy Ray Holston, who handles code enforcement, on the status of six property code violation sites in the city.
— Briefly discussed the increase of political signs due to the upcoming city election and that location of some of them probably violate rights-of-way ordinances but took no action.
— Authorized Spiers to sign an agreement with Election Systems and Software to assist with the upcoming election.
— Briefly discussed possible changes to the city policy book but put the matter under advisement until the next meeting.
— Noted that collection of delinquent privilege license fees has improved and the list of fees owed is less than the previous year. The board placed the matter under advisement pending further action.
— Briefly discussed the status of the city’s fire apparatus fleet and the eventual need to replace aging equipment but took no action.
— Approved for Justin Miller to attend the Mississippi Regional Response Team training April 8-11 in Meridian as an instructor, at no cost to the city; approved Jonathan Head to take the Mississippi Regional Response Team training in Meridian, April 15-18.
Recessed until the next regularly scheduled meeting at 5 p.m., April 16.