City OKs $2.25m paving plan

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Photo by KAITLIN MULLINS After several meetings, a work session and a lot of discussion, the city of Brookhaven Board of Aldermen voted to approve a $2.25 million paving plan that will accelerate the current budget to address major thoroughfares.

After several meetings, a work session and a lot of discussion, the city of Brookhaven Board of Aldermen voted to approve a $2.25 million paving plan that will accelerate the current budget to address major thoroughfares.

A $2.25 million paving project that has been in the works for several weeks was approved at Tuesday’s Brookhaven Board of Aldermen meeting.

Mayor Joe Cox recommended the board approve the $2.25 million funding plan for paving that was presented at the last meeting. The plan would increase the city’s paving budget and also borrow money to add to it in order to get major roads paved that individual wards could not with their allocation. The plan would then continue with the hiring of an engineering company to grade all streets according to federal regulations and then make suggestions based on need and recommend the most appropriate materials.

“This not only funds paving in the six wards but allows the city to address the worst major thoroughfares that we all use to move about the city,” he said. “It would address not only ward paving but the common good for the community as well.”

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Alderman Ward 2 Terry Bates voiced concerns that the plan was unnecessary because there are other things the city needs to be spending money on, such as water and sewer testing or rehabilitation and improvement. Bates questioned why the city would hire an engineer to tell them what streets needing paving most, when each alderman knows the worst streets in their ward.

Other board members said the professional grading would ensure that the city was spending the money wisely. It would also ensure the city could get more done than if it were to continue the previous way of using regular asphalt across the city.

Alderman Ward 5 Fletcher Grice said there have been times he has overlooked a street that an engineer or other professional pointed out as needing to be fixed. Alderman Ward 4 Shirley Estes also mentioned that sewer and water testing has taken place across the city.

“This seems to be the biggest chunk we’ve ever gone after, and I would love to see it done this way,” Estes said. “I would like to see us get with all the different surfaces that can be used and assessing which surface is appropriate for each street.”

After much discussion, the motion passed 5-2, with Bates and Ward 3 Mary Wilson voting against the plan.

“I would recommend that the board approve the hiring of Dungan Engineering at the rate of 6.5 percent to grade the streets based on the PCI index he discussed,” Cox said. “He would recommend surfacing material and bid and execute the $2.25 million for the paving of the city of Brookhaven.”

Dungan’s fees would make up approximately $140,000 of the $2.25 million

After much discussion, including concerns that aldermen would not have control over which streets get paved, and that more attention should be given to milling and under-street concerns, the motion to hire the firm eventually passed 4-3. Bates, Wilson and Ward 1 Randy Belcher.

“What we tried to move last week was that we’re going to allocate $1.75 million strictly for paving; $875,000 is going to the wards,” Alderman Ward 6 David Phillips said. “You’ll get a say in $125,000 this year to pave in your ward. You’ll tell him where you want the streets done and still have complete control.

“The other $875,000 will be used to do these thoroughfares that nobody would touch,” he said. “North Jackson Street, it would take five years of paving to do that one street with what my allocation is.”

Also included is $250,000 for total milling across the city.

“We’re asking the mayor and the engineering company to select these major thoroughfares and help us get as far as we can with the other $850,000. It’s not like we’re taking the whole $2.25 million over the next three years and giving it to the engineer and saying ‘You do what you want,’ but that’s probably what we should do,” Phillips said. “We’re allocating $750,000 this year, we’re going to borrow $1.5 million for two years and pay it back with our allocations.”

“We’re not going to go pave a street and then dig it right back up for sewage and water [issues],” Phillips said. “We’re going to tie that in with the city offices to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Police check lights

Chief of Police Bobby Bell said his department is in the process of checking each streetlight, and tying yellow tape around the poles of those that need to be fixed. Bell said once they have the list of all the non-working lights they will pass the list to Entergy to repair.

Bell said a good relationship between Entergy and the city means the process does not take very long and the lights will be fixed quickly. The last time every streetlight in the city was checked was about six months ago, Bell said, and is something they do regularly.

Alderman-at-large Karen Sullivan drafted a proposed ordinance for the Certified Local Government designation, which was shared with the board and the city attorney. City Attorney Joe Fernald recommended the board thoroughly read and understand the draft, so that informed discussions can take place at a later date.

In other business, the board:

• Received and approved the lower quote from Greenbriar in the amount of $11,800.00 for labor and equipment to remove existing box culvert and install a 36-inch arched concrete culvert on West Congress Street. The city will provide all of the materials needed. The other quote was from Red Oak Construction, LLC in the amount of $14,500.00.

• Approved for Blake Wallace to attend the Rope Rescue II class at the State Fire Academy on June 8 through 11. Cost of the class is $68. The city will pay registration and expenses.

• Approved the application and resolution for up to a 10-year ad valorem tax exemption for Rex Lumber-Brookhaven, LLC for improvements to the facility in 2014, subject to the approval of the state.

• Received the April 2015 Fire Department run report showing 13 runs in the city limits.

• Approved the resolution for the voting delegates at the June 2015 Mississippi Municipal League Conference being held in Biloxi as follows: Mayor Joe C. Cox, first alternate, Mayor Pro-Tempore Mary Wilson; and second alternate, Alderman-at-large Karen Sullivan.

• Approved to hire Jeffery J. James and Frankie W. Cannon in the cemetery department, Marlon Dixon as a certified firefighter with the fire department and Darryl D. Edwards as an operator in the street department.

City Attorney Joe Fernald requested the board go into executive session to discuss and request permission to take action related to litigation. At the end of the session, the board approved a motion to allow Fernald to respond to a letter from Herschel Adams.