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Supervisors considering new solid waste plan

A public hearing to discuss the county’s new solid wastemanagement plan was sparsely attended Monday.

Butch Lambert, the county’s solid waste consultant, provided aquick summary of the new plan despite the lack of an audienceMonday.

Counties were required by the state Legislature in 1991 todevise waste management plans. The plans include an inventory ofcurrent facilities, detail how counties removes solid waste andtheir disposal plans for the next 20 years.

Supervisors had to determine a new plan after voting to abolishthe Southwest Mississippi Authority last year. The authority hadbeen vested by Lincoln and Pike counties, among others, after thelaw’s passage to devise a plan for most of southwestMississippi.

The abolishment made it necessary for Lincoln County and othersto design their own plans.

The current plan is similar to the one followed by the countyunder the authority, Lambert said.

Supervisors are expected to approve the plan after the mandatorypublic response period. Supporters and critics have until the endof the month to submit written comments to County AdministratorDavid Fields for the board’s consideration.

The board also set a public hearing for July 17 to discuss bondrefinancing opportunities.

King’s Daughters Medical Center has requested permission fromthe board to refinance nearly $6.5 million in bonds issued in 1998.Although the county has no liability in the bonds, it must approveor deny the request because it owns the building. The $6.5 millionis the balance of an $8 million bond issue.

The hospital hopes to save money in the long-term by refinancingthe bonds now while the interest rate is low, said County AttorneyBob Allen said.

Under state law, a county may only issue $10 million innon-taxable bonds a year. Non-taxable bonds are those issued forthe county and non-profit agencies in the county, Allen said. The$10 million cap does not affect normal bonds, which generatetaxes.

He suggested the county consider using the opportunity of thehospital’s request to refinance $1.8 million remaining in a 1997bond issue for the Lincoln County Jail.

The move would save taxpayers the added expense of anotherpublic hearing process should the board to decide to refinance inthe future while also taking advantage of the present low interestrates, Allen said.

The county has only issued $600,000 in non-taxable bonds thisyear, Fields said.

The county’s 2006 bond issues and those of the hospital and jailwould still leave the county with approximately $1.1 million underthe cap, he said.

Fields said it was rare for the county to issue more than $1million in these type of bonds during a year’s time.

In other matters, the county moved to save approximately $5,000annually in cellular telephone costs.

Carl Overton, an analyst with the consulting firm TelephoneAudit Group, said he has identified several areas where the countycan save money, with cell phones being the most wasteful targetidentified to date.

Each supervisor, among other county employees, is presentlypaying individually for their cell phones, Overton said. A usageaudit on those phones has shown some have massive underuse whileothers are overused. He suggested the county pool their minutesinto a single plan.

“We’re just changing it from an individual to a shared plan,” hesaid. “It won’t actually change anything in how you use it. Youwill just get more effective use of your minutes.”

Overton said he has identified other “trivial” costs that heworking with Fields on trimming down, such as phone lines that areno longer in use and a high tariff plan that can be downgradedwithout affecting service.