Aldermen release new police dispatch number; table discussion on flea markets

Published 12:54 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayor Billy Spiers told aldermen on Tuesday that Poplarville residents calling the city police on a nonemergency basis will have to call 601-795-4447, beginning at midnight on Dec. 31.

The announcement came as the Poplarville Police Dept. began setting up its own dispatching service, after the board of aldermen gave its approval on Dec. 4. The new service will cost Poplarville about $17,000 a year.

However, Spiers said that for emergency calls, residents should still dial 911.

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The board of aldermen took that route because it was cheaper. They faced a termination of service by the sheriff’s department unless they picked up the salaries of two dispatchers, which would have cost the city $85,000 a year.

The proposed termination came in the form of a letter from Sheriff David Allison on Sept. 12; however, the deadline was postponed twice and Poplarville decided to set up its own nonemergency dispatching service.

Poplarville maintained that 911 service to the city came under the jurisdiction of the board of supervisors and that city residents already paid for the service, based on a $1 for residents and $2 for business monthly fee tacked onto phone bills.

County officials had proposed discussing the possibility of combining all 911 services for Pearl River County. Right now it’s divided, with the sheriff’s department handling calls in North Pearl River County and the Picayune Police Dept. in the southern part of the county.

On another matter, the board tabled a scheduled discussion concerning regulation of flea market operations until their attorney Martin T. Smith returns. Smith has missed several sessions because of an illness.

A state tax commission official recently visited flea market operations set up in a vacant lot near what was formerly Bill’s Fried Chicken, and told vendors they had to pay a $500 license fee to operate the flea market stands. The visit was a surprise to city officials, they said at the Dec. 4 meeting.

City officials then began looking into tax and licensing requirements for flea markets.

Although aldermen did not make any decisions on the matter Tuesday, alderwoman Shirley Wiltshire told the board that she had talked to Hattiesburg officials and they said they only allowed two flea market sales per residence and charged a $50 fee for holding a flea market sale.

In other business, aldermen:

— Heard from Pearl River County Utility Authority Executive Director Jeff McClain, who told the board that PRCUA is planning to approve a $460,000 capital improvements project that will see utility work done in Picayune, Poplarville and Lake Hillsdale. Aldermen took under advisement a PRCUA sewer billing and collection contract. They said they wanted their attorney to go over it before the city signed it.

— Approved a contract that will see Beers Street repaired and reopened, following a presentation by engineer Jason Lamb.

— Appointed Martin Travis Smith as city attorney.

— Approved a city proclamation, designating Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

— Took under advisement a Norfolk-Southern lease agreement between the city and the railroad.

— Went into an executive session to discuss personnel.

— Adjourned.