Board wants county engineers to inspect roads in subdivisions

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Properly built roads within subdivisions, the ongoing mass appraisal for the tax office and problems with voting machines were major topics at the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Monday.

County Planning and Development Director Harold Holmes spoke to the board about accepting roads within the Hunter’s Trace Subdivision into the county road system.

“A one-year warranty is required by subdivision regulations. … Road maintenance will be the responsibility of Stuart Company until such time as the warranty runs out and a separate order is issued by the board,” Holmes said.

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Holmes said that an independent testing company is hired to test the roads, and then submits the report to the developer and county engineers.

“If the roads don’t meet the standards, they have to go back and redo those roads until the standards are met,” Holmes said.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales was concerned about the process of evaluating the construction of the roads.

“Basically you are looking at the paperwork and saying it’s good, but no one (local) has actually been out there to test it. … It seems to me like the county engineers need to go out and test for themselves, and the reason for that is because we have had failures in these roads,” Hales said.

District III Supervisor-elect Hudson Holliday, who was present at the meeting, said he thinks too much emphasis is being placed on paperwork, rather than the work actually being done.

“I think since the building codes have been enforced, people are more concerned with filling filing cabinets rather than making sure the work is done,” Holliday said.

“According to the subdivision regulations that are now in play, have these requirements been met?” asked Hales.

Holmes said that the testing company submitted information to the county engineers and to the developer that all subdivision requirements had been met, but acknowledged that no county engineers go out to inspect the roads.

 “I want to make a note that the board wants changes made to the regulation and they want county engineers to perform their own test,” Hales said.

District II Supervisor Danny Wise agreed, saying, “That will provide a final check that the independent company is doing their job.”

The board voted to accept the roads in Hunter’s Trace Subdivision, but agreed with Hales’ request to make note to make changes to the regulations.

Leon Perry of Professional Mass Appraisals, Inc. reported on the status of the county-wide reappraisal for 2008 that is underway.

“We should be finished with field work by Jan. 31. By March 31, we will be finished with all flagged parcels, which are those that we have questions about. … By April 15, we should be finished with the index study and the small tract land schedule, and by April 30, we should be completed with the keying in of the information,” Perry said.

Perry said several buildings and properties that have had lower values in the past are now being appraised for their true values.

“The reason we were sent in here to do this reappraisal is because you may have a store in the county that is valued at $30,000, but should be valued at $140,000… . Previously, there was no way to keep track of new construction, and that created the problem that everyone wasn’t paying their fair share of taxes. You had stuff going in that no one knew about, houses and structures that for years didn’t pay taxes… . These are some of the things that generated the building codes, so we would know these structures are out there and could tax them correctly,” Perry said.

Perry said by May 1, a printout should be completed to be advertised to let people review their status on the appraisal.

“We will listen to any and all complaints,” Perry said.

Bobby Robbins and Idora White of the Election Commission presented the board with a request to remove the canister printers from the voting machines and no longer use them.

“This is where 99 percent of our problems are,” Robbins said. “The canister is an external tape tabulator that tabulates the vote… . We asked for them to be put on there for a paper-trail record, but there is currently an internal printer that we can take a paper-trail from inside the machine if we need it.”

“The machines are fine, but the printers are falling apart. The printer is causing all the problems. Had we known in advance that we could get the paper trail from inside the machine, we never would have put the printers on there,” White said. “The machine was never designed for that printer.

Robbins provided the board with a petition signed by the election commission members, the county NAACP chairman, local party chairman and other political leaders to submit to the Justice Department requesting that the canisters be removed. County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said it probably would not be necessary to get approval from the Justice Department.

“We’ll check to make sure, but I don’t think the canisters were a requirement from the Justice Department,” Lumpkin said.

“As long as there will be a backup record, I have no problem with taking these canisters off,” Hales said.

Robbins said removing the canisters will save money.

“We have 160 machines, and it costs $300 per machine to replace these canisters, and you have to replace them every two to three years, so this will save money,” Robbins said.

The board considered a request for a temporary power pole permit from a local resident who is building a duplex-style building.

County Building Inspector Kirk Pichon said that the resident is building a duplex and has complied with building permit requirements, but is disagreeing with the fee charged by the utility authority. The utility authority considers a duplex to be commercial property and charges a $2,000 fee for commercial utility authority permits.

Pichon said the resident wants an electrical permit for a temporary power pole so he can proceed with construction while he continues talks with the utility authority.

“We will have to issue a building permit as well, and he has to settle with the utility authority before he can get permanent utilities. There are negotiations going on. If the building gets built, he will have to come back to the building permit office before power is transferred to something permanent,” Pichon said.

Holliday said he does not think a duplex should be considered commercial property.

“The only place a duplex is considered commercial property is in the utility authority,” Holliday said. “Anywhere else, a duplex is considered residential.”

District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen agreed, saying, “The utility authority is wrong in this situation, and this fee should be $300.”

“The fee shouldn’t be anything, and it won’t be anything after January,” said Holliday.

District V Supervisor and Board President Bettye Stockstill asked Holliday, “Where will utility authority funding come from if you do away with that fee?” but Holliday had no response.

In other business the board:

— Accepted FEMA Reimbursements #38 and #39 for a combined total of $920,244.59.

— Approved payment to Samples and Associates for $6,500.00 to be paid out of CDBG grant for completing the CDBG grant application.

The board recessed until 9 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10.