Council discusses appointment, grants and Christmas parade

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Picayune’s City Council reappointed a member to the housing authority, discussed the purchase of a new bucket truck and discussed cuts to the budget.
During discussion of the appointment or reappointment of a member to the Picayune Housing Authority Board, council member Janice Miller Stevens asked about the wording on the agenda.
The agenda item requested the “appointment or reappointment to replace Hedy Cibula” on that board. Stevens said the wording to replace her was confusing, especially since a motion was made to reappoint Cibula to the board before any other discussion had taken place.
But, since a motion and a second had been submitted to reappoint Cibula, city attorney Nathan Farmer said the council had limited options. They could either vote on the matter, or rescind the previous motion and second.
The council decided to vote on the matter, with council members Wayne Gouguet, Lynn Bogan Bumpers, Larry Breland and Mayor Ed Pinero Jr. voting for her reappointment. Stevens voted against the motion, while council member Tammy Valente abstained.
Cibula’s appointment passed with a 4-2 vote.
Pinero suggested council members submit nominations prior to council meetings in the future to avoid confusion.
Replacement of a bucket truck in the Public Works Department garnered some interest from Breland. Breland asked Public Works Director Eric Morris how much he expects to get from the sale of the old bucket truck, and if that money would go towards the purchase of the new truck, estimated to cost as much as $49,500. Morris said he estimates being able to sell the old truck for $8,000, which would be combined with money from the city’s cash reserves. After a brief discussion, the council approved the sale of the bucket truck.
The city also accepted the donation of two metal buildings from Mississippi Power. Morris said one of the buildings would be used to house the new bucket truck, should its purchase be approved at a later date, while the second would be used to storage of other equipment or as a greenhouse.
The buildings would be placed at the city’s Whitthauer Street property and the old city barn on Stephens Street.
Council members also approved a motion to apply for Airport Improvement Project grant funds. Airport Manager Andy Greenwood said the funds would be used to prepare a new master plan for the airport and to conduct the design phase of a new taxiway for helicopters. Greenwood said currently landing helicopters cause debris to fly into some of the nearby T-hangers where fixed based operators conduct business. City Engineer Vernon Moore estimates the cost to construct the taxiy8way to be about $450,000 but this application for funding would be about $150,000. Of that $150,000 about $80,000 would be used to establish a new master plan and complete the design phase of the new taxiway.
Greenwood said the current master plan is about 14-years-old.
“The one we have in place is not really useful for the future… at the airport,” Greenwood said.
During the council member concerns portion of the meeting Breland expressed his opinion on the fact that city funds had been cut concerning buying candy for city representatives to throw during Monday’s Christmas parade.
City Manager Jim Luke said the funding was cut because the council directed him to remove all funding from promotions and exhibits.
Gouguet said he agrees with the cut, and could not validate using taxpayer money to buy candy for a parade when city employee benefits were being cut.
Bumpers said she could not see the taxpayers having a problem with the city spending money on candy for children at a parade. Gouguet said he paid out of pocket for the candy he threw during the parade.
City Clerk Amber Hinton said, on average, the city had been paying $2,000 per year for the candy thrown by city officials at the parade.
The council’s next meeting will be Jan. 6, at 5 p.m.

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