Aldermen studying paving needs

Published 7:00 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the weatheris beginning to warm up. As spring approaches, aldermen will dosome house cleaning of their own as they begin to turn in workorders.

City officials will be patrolling their wards and inspectingtheir roads to decide how to best spend their share of the pavingbudget.

Overall, aldermen will have $500,000, which is a $200,000increase from last year’s budget, to renovate their wards’roadways. Board members indicated they wanted to target the fundswhere they are needed the most.

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“I know I do, and I think everyone else around the board is thesame way. We try to spend (money) around where our worst streetsare and go from there,” said Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates.

How big each alderman’s slice of the paving budget will be was atopic of concern at a previous board meeting.

Bates proposed a vote to split the paving money six ways -leaving Mayor Les Bumgarner and Alderman at Large Karen Sullivanout of the funding equation. The vote was passed and currently onlyaldermen with designated wards will have roughly $83,000 torenovate their roads.

Bates said he brought up the matter so he would know how muchmoney he could expect when deciding which roads to pave. Hementioned splitting the money six ways was the fairest way to goabout business, so no one ward could accumulate a significantlylarger amount of money than the other areas of the city byacquiring additional funding from Bumgarner or Sullivan.

“There are six wards and it’s the wards’ money,” said Bates.”Why should I have to go and beg for it?”

Sullivan said she did not think it was a good idea to leave twoofficials out of the decision-making process. She mentioned thatlast year she shared her money with four wards and the other twowards did not receive money because their respective aldermen didnot ask for additional resources.

“I don’t mind at all sharing my money with the wards, but Idon’t want to be cut out completely,” said Sullivan.

The money debate is still in the air since the mayor has thepower to veto the measure. However, whether the aldermen have$20,000 more or not, there is still work to be done.

“There probably aren’t too many streets that don’t needattention,” said Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell.

Bumgarner said the cost of hot mix is roughly $50 to $60 per tonif the city picks it up and uses the filler to fix potholes.However, since the city does not have paving equipment and requiresthe use of outside resources, the cost to renovate roads is about$120 per ton.

Paving is expected to occur sometime during the spring.

“I sure hope I can,” responded Ward Three Alderman Mary Wilsonwhen asked if she would be able to pave all the roads she wants inher ward.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron said he would like to take onsome rough patches in the Brignall area.

“I have several streets in dire need of paving. It’s been likethat for years,” said Cameron. “It’s been like that prior toannexation.”

Cameron mentioned Carter, Broad, Grant and Brignall Road as someof the streets he would like to improve.

Bates said he would like to tackle Turner Street, Short TurnerStreet, East Chickasaw Street, South Washington Street and MinervaStreet.

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes said she has turned in herpaving list and is awaiting cost estimation. Estes is looking torenovate roads in the Vernondale area, which is on the east side ofHighway 51 and south of Natchez Avenue.

“There’s never enough money for what I want to do on paving,”said Estes.

Maxwell and Wilson said they had not made any decisions onpaving in their wards yet. Ward Six Alderman David Phillips wasunavailable for comment.

While Sullivan currently has no money to spend, she said she andBumgarner see roads around the city that need attending. However,she leaves the prioritizing to the aldermen.

“I do like to give them the courtesy of knowing what’s importantbecause they’ve been here longer than I have,” she said.