Council declines agreement with UA

Published 2:32 pm Friday, August 19, 2011

Picayune’s city council has decided not to enter into an agreement with the Pearl River County Utility Authority to purchase water from their new well.

The proposed agreement would have the city paying .50 per 1,000 gallons, but according to information that Public Works Director Eric Morris presented to the council during Tuesday’s meeting it only costs the city .30 per 1,000 gallons to produce their own water.

“It’s our opinion this (agreement) is not economically feasible to pursue this at this time,” Morris said.

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Morris suggested the council deny the proposal from the Utility Authority, which the council did unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting the council held a budget hearing for the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. Senior Accountant Amber Hinton said the new budget asks for no increase in ad valorem taxes, will do away with employee furlough days and also will not involve laying off any current employees. Hinton said she and City Clerk Priscilla Daniel were able to create such a budget by cutting every department’s budget to “bare bones.”

No citizens in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting had comments or objections to make concerning the proposed budget. The council did not take action on the proposed budget at Tuesday’s meeting.

Picayune Main Street will be moving out of the city’s Train Depot soon, making room for city offices to occupy the building. After the council approved a termination of occupancy agreement between the city and Picayune Main Street, City Manager Jim Luke said the organization has already found a new location on Canal Street. City offices that will occupy the train depot in the next 60 days will include Planning and Development, building inspector, permitting, code enforcement and retirement development, Luke said.

The long awaited train platform was also discussed. City Engineer Brooks Wallace said Amtrak has requires a 600 foot concrete platform, which is the length of the train. Wallace said 600 feet is excessive, especially since only a handful of people board the train in Picayune at any given time. Instead Wallace suggested asking Amtrak if the city could reduce the length of the platform to 100 or 200 feet, which would reduce the cost of the project. Wallace estimated it would cost $50,000 for a 100 foot platform compared to $240,000 for a 600 foot platform. Construction of the platform would be funded with a grant, but  would require the city to match 20 percent of the total price, Wallace said.

If the city decides not to build the platform, Amtrak has said they will cease stops in Picayune, Wallace said. The platform would be concrete, be ADA compliant and have a roof over it similar to what the Shay train on U.S. 11 has. The council approved a motion to apply for the grant and to proceed with discussions with Amtrak to build a shorter platform.

County resident Brandy Renskowski spoke to the council about starting a recycling program. Since moving to the county from Fort Hood Texas, Renskowski has noticed there are no recycling programs in Picayune, and she would like to change that. She said she is even offering to host a week long recycling program at her own home in Audubon Estates early in November. Her plans include more than just cans, she also wants to recycle bottles and paper. To help begin a city wide program she said the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has grants the city can apply for, which would lead to the creation of jobs if such a program was implemented.

Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., asked Morris and Grounds and Beautification Director Daryl Smith to work something up with Renskowski.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter with the Centraplex. After the executive session the council decided to give the Centraplex back to the Foundation For Civic Development.

In other business the council;

— Recognized Picayune Tiger’s 8U girls All-Star softball team for winning the Mississippi Silver Bracket 2011 state Championship.

— Approved assessing tax liens with the Tax Collector and Circuit Clerk’s office for work conducted by city in tearing down an apartment building on Sixth Avenue.

The next regular council meeting will be at 5 p.m. on Sept. 6.