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City, county tout tax-collection plan

Officials say a plan to have the county collect property andother taxes for the city will be a “win-win situation” for allinvolved.

During Tuesday’s city board meeting, Lincoln County TaxAssessor-Collector Nancy Jordan said the city and county are in thepreliminary stages of an interlocal agreement governing the taxcollection services. Brookhaven officials are looking to phase outthe city tax office, one of the few remaining in the state, inconjunction with City Tax Collector Pat Duckworth’s plannedretirement next year.

Jordan said her office currently collects motor vehicle andmobile homes taxes for the city for a 5 percent commission. She didnot have a cost estimate for handling other duties like propertytax collections, although she thought the change would be apositive one.

“We’re trying to save the city and county money,” Jordan said.”That’s the bottom line.”

Officials touted some expected benefits.

“It looks like this will be a win-win situation all the wayaround,” said Mayor Bob Massengill.

The mayor pointed out that taxpayers will be able to pay theirtaxes at one location. Jordan added that the change would save somemoney on publication expenses by only the county having a land salefor delinquent taxes instead of the city also conducting asale.

Massengill said the city has to decide on its tax office plansby the end of the year. However, the plan would not actually takeeffect until June 30, the end of Duckworth’s term in office.

“We’ve got to start the ball, and that’s what we’re trying todo,” Massengill said.

Jordan said the interlocal agreement on tax collection serviceswould also need the county board of supervisors’ approval. Ward SixAlderman John E. “Buddy” Allen voiced support for the plan.

“It’s going to be a blessing to all of us,” Allen said.

In other business during Tuesday’s meeting, Ward Two AldermanTerry Bates voiced concerns about some unkempt conditions in hisward.

As part of routine city clean up efforts, Bates surveyed hisarea and reported 17 vacant or overgrown lots needing to beaddressed. He said he easily could have turned in 10 more lots.

“I was ashamed of what I saw,” Bates said.

Bates said he planned to talk to some residents about wardconditions.

“It’s going to take all of us as a whole to get this cityclean,” Bates said.

In the city-wide effort, the city sends notices to propertyowners asking them to clean up their property. If they do not, citycrews handle the clean up and costs are assessed to the propertyowner.

In related matters, Massengill complimented solid wastedepartment employees on their efforts to improve the city’sappearance in recent weeks.

“They’re working real hard to make the city look good,” themayor said.

Also, Massengill update board members on plans to form aregional solid waste authority with Lincoln and Pike counties. Anew authority, which would oversee solid waste disposal planning,is being sought after a larger authority has been ineffective overthe last 10 years.

As part of those plans, Massengill said the city could get agrant to cover the costs of determining the location for a newrubbish site for trash disposal.

The mayor said Solid Waste Consultant Butch Lambert could helpdetermine a site, but the development process would beexpensive.

“That’s something we’re going to have to address in the monthsto come,” Massengill said.

One of the city’s rubbish sites is nearing capacity. The mayorsaid it could last longer if residents would separate leaves andlimbs, which can be placed at a second rubbish site, from othertrash and garbage items.

Also last night, aldermen approved the Mississippi Department ofTransportation (MDOT) taking over upkeep of the Interstate 55interchange at Brookway Boulevard. Massengill said the city hadtaken over those duties in 1996, but had not done a good job.

“I think it would be wise for us to let them take it back over,”said Massengill, while also citing costs associated with the cityhandling the activity.

Citing a conversation with City Engineer Carl Ray Furr,Massengill said the city will ask MDOT to install lights at thethree interstate interchanges around Brookhaven.

Brookhaven officials are seeking lights similar to those thathave been installed near other cities along the interstate.Massengill said Southern District Transportation Commissioner WayneBrown will be invited to come and see the areas in question.

Tuesday’s meeting concluded an executive session on a cemeterypersonnel matter. Aldermen took no action following the closedsession, but voted to recess their meeting until noon Friday.