City board won’t meet twiceBy MARLAN JONES,
The Mendenhall Mayor and Board of Aldermen held their monthly meeting on October 2. The board discussed conducting a second monthly meeting.
Mayor Todd Booth said that feedback suggested that the Board of Aldermen feels that they are not being informed enough. Booth suggested holding a mid-month meeting to better inform the board of the activities throughout the month. He also suggested that the meeting would help speed up the process of moving forward with agenda items that have to be tabled or researched. He urged the board members to stop by City Hall whenever they can to get updated on what’s going on.
However, the Board unanimously voted against a second meeting. With the majority of the board members working out of town they decided it would be difficult to commit to a second meeting.
Booth discussed the use tax that was recently passed by the legislature. The use tax is essentially a sales tax for online shopping collected by the state. According to HB 1, which established the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act, 35 percent of the use tax collected would be divided between cities, counties, and the local system bridge replacement and rehabilitation program. Fifteen percent each would go to counties and cities and the remaining 5 percent would be distributed to the local system bridge program. The money from this fund should be used to assist municipalities with costs associated with repair, maintenance and reconstruction of roads, streets and bridges.
Booth informed the board that the funds would not be dispersed in a lump sum. He said, “I’m happy we are getting it, because we need it, but we could have really done some good if we got it all at one time.”
A disposal fee increase for the city was discussed at the Simpson County Board of Supervisors meeting. The Mendenhall Board of Aldermen decided that the increase should have no effect on the citizens and that garbage and disposal fees would remain the same for customers. Booth said that any increase set by the county would be paid by the city.
Differences arose during discussions to approve board minutes from September 4 and September 27. Alderman Robert Mangum listed items on the claims docket that were supposed to be handled. After some discussion he moved to adjourn the meeting until the financial discrepancies were fixed. The situation was documented in the September 27 board minutes. According to those minutes, during July the city authorized a request for bids for paving the city. W.E. Blain and Sons provided a bid allowing the city to choose between two options; both bids conformed to the specifications. Two additional non conforming bids were received from Adcamp Inc and J & L Enterprises. J & L Enterprise’s bid only allowed 1150 tons of asphalt when the request for bids stated 1300 tons.
According to the minutes, the mayor and city clerk accepted the bid of W.E Blain & Sons for the first option and they accepted the bid of J & L Enterprises. They mistakenly agreed with these two entities without board approval, and accepted the J & L Enterprises bid believing it was for 1300 tons. Booth said, “When they got through with the work we paid them with office checks. Normally that’s not an issue, but normally it’s not that much money.”
Booth said to correct the issue they met with the auditor and city attorney and documented the mistake in the minutes. He said, “We made a mistake. It wasn’t brought before the board to vote and approve paying for it.”
Booth explained that the claims were paid, but a mistake was made and they showed up again on the claims docket. Mangum appeared to be sceptical of the reappearance of the claims on the docket with new docket numbers. This led to Mangum calling for the October meeting to be recessed for a week until the financials could be sorted. After some discussion by the board and an explanation of the city’s accounting by City Clerk Tiffany Wallace, the board minutes and financial report were passed with a majority vote. Mangum opposed.
Fire Chief Brandon Wester appeared before the board with a request from the Mendenhall Fire Department. The department is in the process of purchasing a new fire truck. Wester requested that the city declare the department’s current rescue unit surplus property so it can be sold. Wester explained that the rescue unit currently gives nothing to the fire rating and that the new fire truck will. He said the rescue unit is not needed because of the new fire truck. Wester explained that trucks will run in place of rescue units as multipurpose vehicles. The Board complied with Wester’s request and authorized him to contact a company that brokers fire trucks. Wester reported that the Mendenhall Fire Department is a strong team and has had as many as 19 responders on a single fire call.
Discussion was held on amending Golf Cart Ordinance 263, which calls for golf carts to have tags if driven on the street. It was explained by Booth that in order to be tagged the golf cart has to be street ready. Booth estimated that to be approximately $2,000 in upgrades to a standard golf cart. The Board agreed to amend the ordinance to require no tag, but still requires golf carts to be insured. Booth suggested that owners purchase a permit from City Hall, but the Board advised against it. Following all discussions the Board entered into executive session to discuss personnel. Afterwards the meeting was adjourned.