By Russell Hood
The Webster Progress-Times
The Eupora Board of Aldermen handled a number of items involving the Water/Wastewater Department at its second regular monthly meeting on Monday.
Planner George Crawford of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District informed aldermen that the Mississippi Development Authority has scheduled a site visit concerning the city’s application for a grant to fund sewer system improvements.
The city has applied for a $450,000 Community Development Block Grant to stabilize its lagoon system. Crawford said the site visit, which is set for next Wednesday, means that grant approval is practically a certainty. The site visit is set for next Wednesday.
In accordance with the grant application process, the board adopted required handicapped access stipulations and an employment/training program action plan.
Another item concerned water policies, which were discussed with Jenny Hatcher, deputy city clerk, and Benny Neal, water/wastewater superintendent. Upon Hatcher’s request, the board adopted a policy that states an automatic reconnection fee will be added after 8 a.m. on the 25th of each month or next business day regardless of water connection status.
The board revised an ordinance adopted in 1980 and rescinded in 1997 to reflect new penalties, reconnection fees and statement mailing dates. The ordinance as revised sets the late fee at $10 after the 10th and $20 after the 20th. It also states that bills will be mailed on or about the 15th of the month.
Additionally, Mayor Dan Burchfield and Hatcher advised the board of a proposed new ordinance that would require all property owners to be responsible for water utilities (water, sewer and garbage).
The ordinance is being considered because of the ongoing problem of non-payment from a large number of renters inside the city limits. It will presented to the board later to consider for adoption.
The board was also informed that some meters in outside systems have been “two-on-one” meters for years. Neal proposes that the property owners in such cases pay a flat rate of $30 and be responsible for billing for the other water used. Burchfield proposes that the city install radio-read meters in these locations and the city absorb the cost of meters, giving the property owner a time limit to hook to the meter. No action was taken.
The board authorized the purchase of radio-read water meters for Walthall, having voted Aug. 5 to approve a contract with Aaron Burgess to install the meters.
Water Department certification results and pay raises were also on the agenda, which were tabled from Aug. 5. The board voted to raise the salaries of Jimmy Hester and Dwayne Dodd by $3 an hour based on the fact that they passed their water certification and have received water certificates (Hester as a certified water and wastewater technician, and Dodd as a certified water technician).
An executive session followed to discuss personnel; Neal stayed in the boardroom with the mayor and aldermen during the closes session. After coming back into open session, the board voted to raise the salary of the assistant water superintendent, Kenny Cooper, by $2.50 an hour.
Aldermen also discussed having a water line-flushing plan. Robert Gibbs (Ward 4), on Aug. 5, expressed concerns about dirty water and said he would like the city to put a flushing system in place. Neal said Monday that the Water Department hopes to start a flushing program around November and that the city plans to notify the public before hydrants are flushed. He also said the department is in the process of numbering water hydrants and painting those that don’t work.
Following discussion with Hatcher, the board authorized the city to apply an interest fee of 12 percent per year for property taxes unpaid since before 2010, which is keeping with state statute.
Billy Brister of the Eupora Eagle Football Booster Club appeared before the board regarding a fundraiser set for Oct. 4 in the former Garan lot. Kirk Auto Co. of Grenada will set up there and, for every person that test drives a Lincoln vehicle and takes a survey, will donate $20 to the club.
The board, at Brister’s request, voted to suspend the “yard sale” scheduled for that Friday in the lot and to grant the Booster Club permission to hold the fundraiser there that day. The yard sale will still be held the day before and after as scheduled.
Tabled until the next meeting without discussion was a proposal presented by Jerry Gary (at-large) at the last meeting regarding the Garan property. He has proposed that the city ask the Webster County Board of Supervisors to consider locating any additional county offices on the city-owned lot.
In a matter tabled from Aug. 5, the board accepted all annual supply bids as recommended by City Clerk Gail Newton with the exception of janitorial services. She also distributed copies of a summation of the proposed fiscal 2014 budget. The board approved Newton and Hatcher’s attendance at clerk certification classes in October.
Burchfield advised the board that Stephanie Stewart had agreed to again voluntarily coordinate the Eupora Christmas Market, which will be Dec. 7.
The mayor also advised the board that the city has had problems with legal descriptions dealing with the Whites Creek Lake levee. He said the city needs to clear and maintain another 50-foot strip at the base of the dam. The city does not own the land but Burchfield said the city is looking at a land swap on the west side of the entrance to Gary Park.
These agenda items were tabled:
• discussion of the possible installation of speed bumps on West Clark, Mt. Vernon Road, South Dunn.
• purchasing card with Regions Bank.
• review of the Region IV Housing Authority contract.