Brookhaven Board of Aldermen sticks with retail group, drops Waste Pro debris removal service

Published 12:23 am Thursday, March 8, 2018

City aldermen are giving a Tupelo business-recruiting firm another year to talk up Brookhaven to potential retail businesses.

The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously to extend the contract with The Retail Coach for a second year at a cost of $20,000, with the condition the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors do the same and split the bill.

“They’ve done a year’s worth of research, and that’s the hard part,” Mayor Joe Cox said. “The contacts that they’ve made are phenomenal. We’ve got to give them a chance for their work to pay off.”

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Will Kline, director of retail strategy with The Retail Coach, met with the board and Lincoln County Economic Development Executive Director Garrick Combs in a 30-minute closed-door session Tuesday after the 15-minute regular meeting. The board voted to go into executive session to discuss contract negotiations and potential litigation, which took about 45 minutes.

After resuming their meeting, Alderwoman-at-Large Karen Sullivan made the motion to renew the contract with The Retail Coach upon the acceptance of the shared contract with supervisors. Ward 4 Alderman Jason Snider seconded the motion.

Cox said he feels confident the Board of Supervisors will accept the contract for another year and split the cost with the city.

Supervisors on Monday seemed to be slightly split in their faith that the retail firm would be able to deliver the goods. The board tabled action on a new contract, taking a wait-and-see approach as to the city’s action.

The consulting firm works with local governments and chambers of commerce to identify gaps in retail communities and fill them by recruiting like businesses.

Brookhaven and Lincoln County jointly hired The Retail Coach last February for $18,250 each. The first year was mostly for research and data-gathering, and the current year’s price is much lower.

Kline told The Daily Leader Tuesday his firm has pitched to about 50 retailers, though none have set up shop in Brookhaven or Lincoln County yet. Making that final sale is not the job of The Retail Coach, Kline said. Their mission is to recruit retailers to the area and to coach the board members and leaders to learn to recruit “so they can do it on their own,” he said.

Kline made a presentation to supervisors Jan. 16. The city/county agreement expired Feb. 23.

“We’ll come and present again if they need it,” he said.

In other business Tuesday night, aldermen voted on a second item following the executive session. The city is severing its debris contract with Waste Pro, choosing to pick up the vegetative debris itself.

Waste Pro will continue servicing the city for trash collection and recycling.

“The contract for all of it renews Oct. 1,” Cox said. “We’re going to advertise for RFPs (request for proposals), probably by May 1. We hope to have the specs out May 1. We hope to make a decision during the summer to be effective Oct. 1. If another carrier were to take it over, they would need some time to mobilize, to get their trucks here.”

The board went into a second executive session after the two votes, with the topic of economic development and possible litigation. No action was taken when they came out.