Council opens bids for sewer work

Published 2:49 pm Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As part of an Environmental Protection Agency project Picayune’s city council opened bids for a sewer upgrade project.

The work is slated to upgrade the force sewer main along Beech Street, said Mayor Ed Pinero Jr.

Eight bids were opened Tuesday night at the council’s regular session meeting, with the apparent lowest bid coming from Plaas Inc. for $224,850 and the highest bid coming from Hensley Lee Contracting Inc. at $556,310.36. The bids were taken under advisement with a final decision to come at a later meeting.

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Roger Coldwell, with Hartman Engineering said the reason the city opened the bids instead of the Utility Authority, who recently took over ownership of the city’s sewer system, was because the city owned the system when the grant funds were applied for and approved.

Utility Authority Engineer Brooks Wallace said the city and the Pearl River County Utility Authority came to an agreement to have the city continue to handle the grant since under the city’s approval the requirement for a match was waived. If the application had been moved under the Utility Authority’s name there was the possibility that the match would not have been waived.

Public Works Director Chad Frierson said this will be one of many projects in the community that will upgrade the city’s sewer system.

Owners of nuisance properties that have required city action to resolve still have bills to settle with the city. Code Enforcer Alvin Carter presented a list of about 23 properties that the city has cleaned up as an effort to remedy the problem. Those clean up costs totaled about $93,000. Carter presented a request to apply liens on the properties where the land owner has not repaid the city for the clean up work that was conducted on their property. He suggested to the council that for the majority of the priorities in question the city could tack on an additional $1,500 penalty. The council approved adding the liens and penalties, to be filed in the county Chancery Court for future research. With the penalties the city is owed about $125,000 for that clean up effort.

Fire Chief Keith Brown also came before the council to suggest updating the city’s various building codes to bring them up to 2009 standards. Currently the city is under 2003 building codes. Brown said given the previous administration approved a motion to increase the maximum height of buildings within the city to allow the Holiday Inn Express to begin construction off of Memorial Boulevard, updating the rest of the building codes goes hand in hand.

In the next year or two Brown said he expects building codes set forth in 2011 to call for sprinkler systems to be installed in all new residential construction. That move would allow homeowners to get a small percentage discount on their fire insurance. No action was taken on the matter.

Frank Egger once again stood before the council to protest City Manager Harvey Miller’s appointment to the Picayune School Board. His contention lies in the fact that Miller is also holds the position of City Manager. For the past several meetings Egger has addressed the council to publicly state his opposition. The council made a decision within the last month to support the school district’s decision to seek a formal opinion from the county Chancery Court.

Egger said he checked to see if the school district had ever submitted a request to the Chancery Court for a decision on the matter. He said he found no such request. He also claimed he talked to a Chancery Court judge, who he chose not to name, and that judge told him that there was no question to address on the matter.

“Since you know more about the law you think I could hire you to represent me in this case,” Miller asked jovially.

City Attorney Nathan Farmer said it is the right of the school district to seek an answer whether Miller can serve the community in both capacities. He also said an opinion submitted by the Ethics Commission reflected that Miller’s service in both positions is not a conflict.

Egger told the council that if Miller will resign that night, he would go away. At that murmurs of laughter could be heard in the audience and Miller said, “You’re never going to go away.”

The council went into executive session to discuss possible litigation with the Centraplex, personnel matter and a contractual matter with the airport. Decisions on those discussions were not available at press time.

In other business the council also;

— Approved travel for Police Chief Jim Luke and Brenda Smith to travel to Salt Lake City to appear before the CALEA panel, which is required every three years to maintain the department’s accreditation status.

— Approved travel for Fire Marshall Pat Weaver and the department’s arson dog, Joanie, to become re-certified.

— Approved a request from Picayune Main Street to hold the fall Street Fair on November 7 and 8.

The next scheduled council meeting will be at 5 p.m. Oct. 20.