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Aldermen discuss division of street paving money

Aldermen revisited the idea of using a debt collection serviceto gather money owed to municipalities, approved a grant for theBrookhaven Fire Department and shared ideas on how to split roadmoney.

In a surprise to most aldermen, Ward Two Alderman Terry Batesbrought up a discussion on how to split the $500,000 budgeted thisyear for road repairs.

The options were to split the money eight ways, which would includeMayor Les Bumgarner and Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan, or sixways, which would keep the money split between the aldermen withdesignated wards.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell attempted to table the vote.However, the aldermen decided to continue with Bates’proposal.

The board decided to split the money six ways. Ward Three AldermanMary Wilson, Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron, Maxwell and Batesvoted to split the money six ways.

Bumgarner has 10 days to veto the measure.

After a debate about the issue, Bates hoped the vote did not breakdown the morale of the group.

“I don’t get my vote around this table 65 percent of the time, andI’m still smiling,” said Bates.

In another road-related matter, the board approved the city’s aimto secure a CAP loan from the Mississippi Development Authority forthe Rex Lumber road improvements.

The city will fund the $650,000 remaining for the road project andthe county will pay half. The city will also assume responsibilityfor the road’s maintenance in the future, which the county will notbe obligated to be of assistance.

“You can always ask for help,” said Bumgarner.

The board was expected to approve or disapprove the services of SCServices & Associates, Inc. for the collection of delinquentaccounts. However, aldermen had too many questions that neededanswering before deciding on whether or not to use the debtcollection service.

“I feel like this isn’t the time to vote on it,” saidCameron.

SC Services & Associates, Inc. is a 16-year-old debt collectionagency. Their services have been in use in the county, Wesson andEllisville.

A representative from the company had appeared in front of theboard once in October and January. In a previous appearance, therepresentative said the service would require a one-year contract,but would be free of charge to the city. The company would billthose in debt for their services. He had also previously mentionedthe city could expect collection rates of 40 percent in the firstyear and 80 percent in the years to follow.

Some of the means by which the collection company enforcescollections is by canceling trash pickup and suspending a driver’slicense. However, it is the ways in which the company may collectdebts and how those processes would be enforced that raised thebiggest concerns for the board members.

Bumgarner said he would invite a representative from the company tovisit the board at the next meeting.

Without much debate, the board approved an AFG grant through FEMAworth about $150,000 with a 5 percent city share.

“I’m glad to get this,” said BFD Chief Tony Weeks. “It’ll help usget some equipment we really need.”

The grant will help provide the fire department with eight sets ofbreathing apparatuses, eight sets of turnout gear and another setof rescue tools.