Council discusses drainage

Published 4:10 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Some modifications to a grant application may help with drainage in the city limits.

Hartman Engineering engineer Roger Coldwell spoke to Picayune’s city council at its Tuesday evening meeting about options in applying for grant funds from Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for drainage work, while a separate grant will help remove some debris from existing drainage.

He said the city has never been able to apply for grants from the National Flood Insurance Program before but thanks to former city employee Tammy Campbell the city now is able to. Campbell, while she was an employee of the city, worked to get the city in the program, which reduced flood insurance by as much as 10 percent in the city. A list of repetitive flood loss properties shows that there are three drainage branches in the city most affected by flooding, Monroe, Sycamore and Alligator branches.

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The city has three options. The first option would be to accept the original proposal of $500,000, which would require a 25 percent match from the city. That percentage could be reduced by options two and three, which would get more work done. Coldwell ssaid that since there are 117 structures involved in the Monroe Branch, the city could upgrade the grant to $1.2 million with option two.

Option three would include all the branches for a total cost of $3.6 million, he said. Using option two or three would reduce the city’s match percentage to five percent, Coldwell said.

Watkins suggested the city take care of as much as they could and go with option three.

“The need it too great not to get as much of this done as possible,” Watkins said.

The motion to go with option three was approved.

Another grant to remove debris from city drainage areas using a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service grant should help with flooding in some areas. Council member Anna Turnage asked if Monroe Branch, the branch that drains the Woodglen Cove area, would benefit form the grant. Public Works Director Chad Frierson said it would. The council accepted the grant of $68,874.

The council approved for the city to make use of used school bus tires, saving them about $10,000 to $15,000 a year in expenses. Interim City Manager Harvey Miller said that state laws regulate school bus tire use, reducing their intended life to a fraction. Now the used tires can be used on city heavy vehicles, such as bucket trucks, and save money for the city.

A request to charge $50 per funeral for police escort was withdrawn by Police Chief Jim Luke. He said that request was sent to the city in error and funeral escorts should be a free public service.

Discussion of a smoking ban and a stiffer noise ordinance also were discussed. Council member Jerry Bounds said he wanted to make a motion to ban smoking at Tuesday’s meeting, but City attorney Nathan Farmer said the city needs to hold a public hearing on the matter. After the public hearing the city can consider adopting such a ban, he said.

Council member Donald Parker then addressed the need for a stiffer noise ordinance. He speculated that the last ordinance was adopted when the Victrolla was still in use and it’s time to update it.

“I’m getting in the sunset years and I want to be able to hear,” Parker said.

Turnage said she lives near a shopping center where young people with loud sound systems in their vehicles have competitions late at night.

Luke said his department is studying what other cities of comparable size have in effect and will bring a proposal to the council at a later date.

During the citizen concerns section of the meeting Wilda McNatt, a Ponderosa resident, said she has dealt with the same problem of loud music and parties for far too long. Parties in the area are often noisy and police sometimes have to be called out numerous times, she said.

“Why do the police have to be called four times for a noise ordinance? They should be arrested,” McNatt said.

Former council member Mark Thorman asked the council why there has been no response to his list of questions submitted about a month ago. He said he is not requesting public documents, but posed questions of concern. Thorman did not get a response from the city officials.

The council went into executive session. Miller said after the executive session that the council dropped the airport hangar rental rate by $50, took no action on Win Win Properties matter, extended the deadline with Neel Shaffer for the Comprehensive Plan until December, tabled the Intermodal Center matter, issued a contract for $1.21 million to Griffin Classic Builders contingent on insurance funding to rebuild the Centraplex, tabled the Mississippi Power matter and took no action on hiring a new City Clerk. The sale of property was handled with a quit claim deed to Chris Toft.

In other business the city council;

— Approved the four-day work week beginning Sept. 8. The schedule will be 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday with a 30-minute lunch. This will be done on a trail basis.

— Approved the council and mayor to conduct a Hurricane Katrina remembrance ceremony on Aug. 29, at 10 a.m. at the Historic City Hall.

— Approved holding a public Comprehensive Plan meeting in the council chambers on Thursday Sept. 4, and Friday Sept. 5, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

The next council meeting will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 2.