Breland questions beautification changes to city hall

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, October 4, 2012

Two change orders dealing with the construction of the addition to historic City Hall for beautification purposes were questioned by council member Larry Breland at Tuesday evening’s Picayune City Council meeting.

The changes had to do with changing the installation of vinyl composition tile to porcelain flooring and with upgrading the drop tiles for the ceilings to a more aesthetically pleasing type.

Changing the flooring from vinyl to porcelain will cost the city an additional $12,000. Breland asked for a reason to change the flooring. Public Works Director Eric Morris said not only would the porcelain flooring look better, but it would require less maintenance in waxing and other care.

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Morris said within four years the city would recoup the cost of the upgrade by not needing to get the porcelain flooring waxed and maintained each year.

The council unanimously approved the change in the building’s flooring.

The second change order dealt with changing the ceiling tiles to a more aesthetically pleasing type with beveled edges and recessed support, Morris said. The cost for this change would add $3,303 to the city’s construction bill.

This change prompted Breland to again ask again what the purpose of the change would be. Morris said it would make the public spaces of the building more attractive. Breland said at the current rate of changes being made, he fears the city will exceed the bond money borrowed to construct the addition, prompting the possibility of the city digging into other funds in order to finish the project.

“I have a problem with us spending like that now,” Breland said.

Breland then asked how much the air conditioning system would cost and if there are enough funds set aside to cover the expense. Morris said the cost of the air conditioning unit would be between $43,000 and $46,000.

A motion to approve the change in the type of ceiling tile as approved by council members Larry Watkins, Jason Todd Lane, Wayne Gouguet and Mayor Ed Pinero Jr., but opposed by Breland. Council member Lynn Bogan Bumpers was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

The council also approved a motion to send City Manager Jim Luke to law enforcement training. Luke, the city’s police chief prior to taking the position of city manager, will be heading to North Charleston, S.C., to attend Regional Organized Crime Information Center training from Oct. 28 to 31 at a cost of $1,000. Breland asked if a police officer would also attend the training, but a firm answer was not given. Maj. Ricky Frierson said the reason Luke volunteered to go was because no other officer in the department had the time to go.

The Picayune Item asked why, out of the entire department, no other officer had time to go to the training. Frierson replied that only upper level officers were eligible for the training. Chief Bryan Dawsey then immediately added that in order for Luke to maintain his certification as a law enforcement officer he needs to attend 24 hours of training annually.

A new traffic light will be installed on Mississippi Highway 43, North at its intersection with Beech Street. City Engineer Brooks Wallace said the installation is expected to begin in November and be completed by June. The $700,000 project will include turn lanes for each direction of traffic and some intersection work as well.

In other business the council, approved a motion to waive all building and code permit fees for flood victims of Hurricane Isaac. Pinero said any work to repair a flood damaged home will still require a permit to meet flood insurance requirements, but the fees for those permits will be waived.

The next regular council meeting is set for Oct. 16, at 5 p.m.