Aldermen discuss AT&T contract renewal

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tuesday, the Poplarville Board of Aldermen discussed the city’s agreement with AT&T and the possibility of extending the city’s contract for another 10 years.
Michael Walker, the executive director of external affairs with AT&T Mississippi, addressed the Board’s questions about the agreement.
The city entered into the agreement to allow AT&T to operate in the city in 2009, in exchange the city would receive three percent of the video service fee.
However, the expiration date of that contract is in dispute between the city and the company.
Board Attorney Nick Thompson said under the original contract, the agreement will terminate in December of 2019.
A letter sent to the Board by AT&T states the contract expired in December of 2014 and asked the city to renew for another ten years, ending it in December of 2024.
Walker told the Board that part of the confusion could be the result of the company presenting several different options in different areas of the state. Some boards and councils didn’t want to extend the contract beyond their terms in office, he said.
The Board took no action on the matter until the termination date of the original contract is confirmed.
Walker also briefly discussed some efforts by AT&T to provide more service through U-Verse and Direct TV.
The city does not receive the three percent video service fee for customers of Direct TV, components of AT&T, Walker said.
Depending on the area, all services may not be available to potential customers, he said.
Some members of the Board also expressed dissatisfaction with only receiving New Orleans area news stations instead of Mississippi news providers.
Walker said that is because Pearl River County is located in the New Orleans marketing area.
The Board also discussed the Media 3 franchise previously contracted with the city.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Thompson said the contract with Media 3 expired after the company failed to respond to his requests. However, after further review, Thompson said the contract was approved by the Board through September of 2017 in an effort to avoid losing the city’s franchise fees.
In separate matters, the Board:
-Approved a motion to advertise for bids for maintenance services at the city’s two cemeteries.
-Took no action on the annual policy of routinely reviewing and adjusting the city’s water rates. Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise suggested the matter could be tabled until after the election.
– Approved a pay increase for Camron Ladner at the Poplarville Fire Department pending his graduation from the Mississippi Fire Academy on April 13.
– Heard an update from City Clerk Jane O’Neal about the project to reconcile old accounts before the city can transition to the new software and bank account previously approved by the Board. O’Neal previously said the project would take several months to complete due to the complexity of the issue.
– Approved an event request by the Early Childhood Academy and Excel By Five to hold a Community Fair and Book giveaway on May 13 at City Park.
Before adjourning, the Board entered into executive session to discuss an economic development matter.
The next Board meeting will be held on April 18 at 5 p.m. where the Board will hold public hearings regarding homeschool zoning disputes.

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About Julia Arenstam

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