City pursuing land swap deal

By Russell Hood

The Webster Progress-Times


City leaders have taken steps toward a possible land exchange at Gary Park and Whites Creek Lake.

The Eupora Board of Aldermen, on Sept. 3, authorized board attorney Jacqueline Meek to run a title search of the land on the west side of Gary Park in order to swap it for land at the base of the Whites Creek Lake levee. Aldermen also authorized Mayor Dan Burchfield to obtain quotes from local surveyors to survey the land adjacent to Gary Park and award the job based on time and price.

On Aug. 19, the mayor reported problems the city has with the legal descriptions dealing with inspection of the lake levee, and a possible land swap on the west side of the entrance to Gary Park.

Also last week, the board voted to request that the secretary of state’s office transfer title of a dilapidated house at 1555 Adams Ave. to the city, and then to have it torn down. The house is owned by the state for delinquent taxes, according to Burchfield. Once the house is demolished, he said the lot would be a green area that the city could perhaps offer at an inexpensive price to someone who would agree to build a home there by a set date.

Aldermen declared a John Deere sidehog the city is no longer using surplus property and voted to transfer the title to the county’s District 3 road department. They also authorized Meek to draft an interlocal agreement between the city, Webster County and Webster County School District in areas of cooperation.

The board accepted the resignations of aldermen Jerry Gary, Howard Rumore and Junior Shaw from the Eupora Fire Department, effective July 1, to avoid any conflicts of interest. Additionally, Rumore was appointed city fire marshal, which is allowed of an alderman by statute.

Board members voted to advertise for a part-time position of 20 hours a week at City Hall to replace Tanisha P. Hankins, who has resigned. City Clerk Gail Newton, Burchfield, Water Superintendent Benny Neal and any other alderman available will be on the interview committee.

The board authorized the modification of the curbs on Gold Street to be handicapped accessible.

During department head reports, Burchfield said the city has installed security cameras at the lake pavilion and Depot in order to deter any possible vandalism.

These previously tabled items were again tabled: Garan property proposal (indefinitely), forbidding firearms on city property and Regions Bank purchasing card (both until the next regular meeting).

No tax increase in city budget

No one present at a Sept. 5 public hearing voiced any opposition to the city of Eupora’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget.

The Board of Aldermen has a special called meeting at 5 p.m. today regarding the 2013-14 budget and plans to adopt it Monday, when it meets at 6 p.m. The $1.62 million general fund budget does not include a proposed tax increase. The separate budget for the Water and Sewer Fund totals $1.3 million.

“We are looking at a very tight and efficient budget,” Mayor Dan Burchfield said during the budget hearing. “The board and myself are determined to be as efficient as possible before we ask for any tax increase.”

He said the budget will reflect the three priorities of the board: economic development, upgrading the city’s water system and street improvements.

Burchfield said the budget includes anticipated revenue from three grants. One is a $450,000 Community Development Block Grant for sewage lagoon stabilization. Grant approval has not been officially announced, but the Mississippi Development Authority did choose the city for a grant application site visit, which was Aug. 28.

Another grant is for emergency sirens. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency grant will include five sirens: two in Eupora, and one each in Walthall, Mathiston and Mantee. The other three municipalities will pay their share of $1,228 per siren to the city as lead applicant.

The third grant is a HOME (Homeowner Rehabilitation) Grant for the demolition and reconstruction of three substandard houses in the city. Construction of the new houses is under way but work will continue into the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.