Council has a quorum, two members still absent

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 21, 2017

Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the back taxes listed below do not include fees and penalties and that the company listed has paid one year’s worth of the back taxes.

A second attempt this week to hold a Picayune City Council meeting proved fruitful with the attendance of Mayor Ed Pinero Wednesday night. However, Councilors Larry Breland and Lynn Bogan Bumpers were absent for the second time in a row this week.

The first attempt to hold the meeting took place Tuesday night, but with Pinero out of town, and the absence of Breland and Bumpers, there were not enough members in attendance to hold the meeting, pushing it back to Wednesday.

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Matters tackled during Wednesday’s meeting included discussion about back taxes owed the city and Picayune School District by the local company Shale Support Services.

City Clerk Amber Hinton said the business owes the city $98,533 for 2015 and $62,143 for 2016, both in back personal property taxes. That company also owes the Picayune School District $161,143 for 2015 and $104,935 for 2016, also in back personal property taxes. Those figures do not include penalties and fees, Hinton said.

City Attorney Nathan Farmer said the county is tasked with collecting taxes, and then disseminating them to the city, under an interlocal agreement established about 10 years ago.

In order to collect those funds, Hinton said the Council could opt to put a lien on the business’ equipment.

However, Thursday the Item learned that Shale Support Services has paid one of the year’s worth of back taxes. Tisha Johnson, deputy assessor with the Pearl River County Tax Assessor’s office, said the company has paid the back taxes for 2016, and intends to pay the 2015 back taxes soon.

City Manager Jim Luke said he intends to confer with the city’s legal counsel to establish a plan of action, which will be presented to the Council at the next meeting.

In a separate matter, the Council approved an adjustment to the rate structure with Mississippi Power in relation to street lighting along Memorial Boulevard, Highway 11, Martin Luther King Boulevard and Goodyear Boulevard. Public Works Director Eric Morris said the agreement involves a total of 229 streetlights, all maintained by the power company. This new rate structure will allow the power company to recoup costs associated with maintenance of the lights, and at the same time upgrade the lights from an outdated high pressure sodium bulb to more efficient and brighter LED bulbs, said Mississippi Power representative Byron Hill.

Hill said the LED bulbs emit light in a more focused manner, enabling better lighting in the intended areas.

Morris said the adjusted agreement will not include the 12 fixtures recently installed in front of City Hall on Goodyear Boulevard, but long term the plan is to turn those fixtures over to the power company for future maintenance.

In other business the Council:

— Approved a motion to provide conditional use to Robert St. Romain to use the front of his building as an office for an air conditioning business, located at 2110 East Canal St.

— Approved a motion to provide conditional use to Dennis Collier to use space above his office, located at 413 Carroll St., as a residence.

The next Council meeting will be held Oct. 3 at 5 p.m. in City Hall.