Kanduit invoice tabled again

Published 2:41 pm Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yet another meeting where the final invoice to pay Kanduit Construction for work conducted on the Intermodal Center was met with debate and another motion approved to table the matter.

Several meetings overe the past couple months have had the same issue on the agenda, each time that matter was tabled. Tuesday council member Leavern Guy made a motion to pay the invoice, which failed.

At the last Picayune council meeting, council member Larry Watkins asked for the city’s building inspector to check out a list of problems concerning the building. When Guy made the motion to approve paying the invoice, Watkins again voiced his opinion on the problems not being addressed.

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“I went over there and checked it myself and I guarantee there’s problems over there,” Watkins said.

When Guy’s motion to pay the invoice did not find approval, he warned the council that the members were opening themselves up for a possible legal matter. Payment to Kanduit has been delayed by months.

Watkins was not the only council member with reservations. Jerry Bounds said it already took the company a year too long to finish the building. Guy said that hold up was due to situations created by the city that held up work on the project. Guy did not elaborate what those situations involved.

After more discussion, council member Donald Parker made a motion to table the matter until the council was pleased. Guy was the only council member to oppose the motion to table. Council member Anna Turnage was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Brooks Wallace, an engineer with Dungan Engineering, presented changes to construction of the new fire station, which included adjustment of the second floor height, more data cable outlets and additional insulation in the sleeping quarters among others. Wallace said none of the changes, especially the adjustment to the second floor, would affect the exterior of the building.

All the changes he presented to the council totaled about $8,335, bringing the total cost of the building to $1.73 million. Wallace said there is about $90,000 in contingency funds to handle such situations. Not using contingency funds would mean themoney would go back where they came from, the Mississippi Development Authority, he said.

“We’re going to use all the contingency,” Wallace said.

The new station has an approximate completion date of August.

Charter Communications sent Director of Government Relations Nick Pavlis to answer some questions the council has had. As he approached the front of the room, he was greeted by Guy with, “You should have been here three months ago.”

Guy had a number of questions for Pavlis, mostly concerning losing three channels to the local service and an increase in fees. Pavlis said the loss of the channels, which were network channels, does not affect the fees. Customers primarily pay for the channels that come over the satellite network, such as the History and Discovery channels, he said.

Guy also wanted to know why Slidell, La., customers are paying the same amount and getting some channels in high definition, while high definition is not even offered in Picayune. A number of residents in Picayune have bought high definition television sets only to find out their local cable company does not offer high definition channels, Guy said.

“I just want you to know that I am not happy. I expected more,” Guy said.

Pavlis said there are plans to run optical cables under the Pearl River from Slidell into Picayune in an effort to upgrade Picayune’s services, including offering faster Internet speeds, possibly up to 16 megabytes a second.

Dorothy Breland also expressed her discontent with her current level of service in addition to a recent $4 a month hike on her bill. Mayor Greg Mitchell said the channels cut out were network stations from Hattiesburg and Baton Rouge and he can see both sides of this dilemma. On one side, those networks were offered on other channels, but on the other side, the duplicate network stations featured different content at times.

Pavlis said he hopes the upgrade will be complete by the third quarter of this year. However, he did say the original plan was to have that same work done by the third quarter of 2008.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter with the Butler Snow law firm of Jackson and the possible sale of land. Decisions on those matters were not available by press time Tuesday evening.

In other matters the council;

— Tabled two matters concerning subdivision of properties in Turnage’s district until the next meeting when her presence is expected.

— Approved postponing the date for the public hearing to amend the zoning ordinance concerning height restrictions until March 3.

— The council was presented with draft copies of the Comprehensive Plan. Copies are available for public viewing at the city hall front desk and the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library and are encouraged to look them over and offer comments.

The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. March 3.