McComb selectmen learned they’ll be getting help with repairs on a bridge in Baertown.
Public Works Director Alice Barnes told board members that Pike County supervisors voted in October to use some of their State Aid funding to repair a bridge on Hamilton Street, which Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said was ordered closed by Gov. Phil Bryant earlier this year.
In order to get permission from the state Department of Transportation to use those funds, Barnes said the city must agree to rules of the state’s Local System Bridge Program.
The city would then be expected to buy any needed rights of way, pave the road edges at each end of the bridge and move utility lines. A city water line runs along the outside of the bridge.
Lockley noted that the bridge’s closure had forced the McComb School District to reroute buses, and Neel-Schaffer engineering firm project manager Keith Lott said first responders and garbage trucks also had to adjust their routes.
Lott said the city is getting a good deal, thanks to the county.
“This is about a $450,000 project, and you’re going to put about 10 percent in,” he said.
Ronnie Brock, Donovan Hill and Devante Johnson, the only selectmen present Tuesday night, enthusiastically directed City Administrator Dirkland Smith to put the matter on next week’s meeting agenda for approval. Michael Cameron, Ted Tullos and Shawn Williams were absent.
In another matter, board members signaled they would likely oppose efforts to collect delinquent court fines and fees by garnishing state tax refunds.
Lockley said the city has been using Credence Resource Management, a Dallas-based company with an office in Natchez, to collect old debts.
A state law that went into effect this year allows cities to contract with the Mississippi Municipal League to run through lists of delinquent debtors to see if they have a state tax refund coming.
If there is a refund, MML or its contractor, if any, can have some or all of the refund redirected to client municipalities to pay part or all of the outstanding debt.
Lockley said officials with MML had suggested the city continue using Credence, since that contract is already in place, but City Judge Brandon Frazier told him, “As little as (Credence) collects, it’s not worth” continuing to use the company.
Hill, however, said he opposed taking tax refunds.
“People wait for their refunds to do different things every year,” Hill said. “The minimum wage hasn’t been raised since I graduated from high school, and a lot of people around here don’t make any more than that. Taking their tax refunds will hurt them.”
In other business, the board:
• Noted a request from the Junior Auxiliary for an annual sponsorship to support the organization’s activities, including Camp Sunshine.
Lockley said the city had never had a request to sponsor JA before, to his knowledge, and said the board should “be mindful that we are in a budget crunch now. Every dollar counts.”
Hill said it was too late to implement a deadline for this year for requests to support organizations and activities, but suggested the board set an August deadline for such requests so the city can consider them during its budget deliberations.
• Heard from Lockley that the county board should approve an order at its next meeting to cut a $54,000 check to the city for renovations at the Alpha Center.
• Noted the city owes Scenic Rivers Development Alliance a $10,000 contribution, which was budgeted, but decided to withhold payment until the city is in better financial shape later in the fiscal year.
• Noted it is time to advertise for bids to serve as the city’s depository.
• Learned the $66.36 price increase in the city’s maintenance contract with Otis Elevator is due to higher costs associated with parts that may need to be replaced and with sending inspectors to McComb.