By Daniel Brunty
The Webster Progress-Times
The Webster County Board of Supervisors made forward progress in the effort to begin reconstruction of dilapidated houses in the community during its second monthly meeting Tuesday in the boardroom.
Housing Specialist Patsy Patterson and Program Coordinator Spencer Broocks, both of the Golden Triangle Planning and Developing District, who presented board members with more documentation regarding the next steps in the three-grant agreement by the Mississippi Development Authority for the Home Investment Partnership Program, also known as the HOME program.
Patterson and Broocks explained to the supervisors that before the board could accept bidding for contractors to rebuild the homes it would need to advertise to have the necessary preliminary work done to the homes. Part of this process is to have environmental clearance, which Patterson stated that the necessary paperwork to have it approved was ready for the county to sign off on.
From that point the board would need to approve to advertise for surveyor services, legal services to perform title searches, certified building inspector and certified asbestos inspector.
With the environmental clearance being necessary to continue before advertising for the four services could be completed, the board was presented with documentation for certification of the exemption of HUD-funded projects, statutory worksheet, certification for categorical exclusions and two letters to Mississippi Development Authority regarding environmental. Patterson told the board that it would need to authorize the board president to sign all the documents on behalf of the county.
A motion by District 4 Supervisor Paul Crowley to authorize Board President Pat Cummings to sign the documents was seconded by District 3 Supervisor Randy Rico and unanimously passed by the board.
Next, Broocks submitted a request for a HOME Grant application fee of $5,000 for the GTPDD. During the discussion, the board members decided to create a separate account for these funds, for bookkeeping purposes. A motion was made to authorize the board president to sign and approve the request for funds, as well as creating a separate account. The board approved both items unanimously.
The last item presented by Broocks was in regards to closing out contracts that were used to pay application fees with funds from previous years’ grants. The board again approved a motion for Cummings to sign the closeout agreements for previous application grants on behalf of the county.
The board also discussed the non-binding special referendum that was approved in December that will address whether to repair and restore the existing burnt courthouse or build a new one.
With no date set yet to hold the referendum, the board members decided it was time to start considering a time to hold it.
After a brief discussion, the board explained that the delay on the date for the referendum was based on waiting for results from research in regards to finding the specifications of removing a county seat from one area to another.
After previous and numerous contacts with the Mississippi attorney general, the board was informed that for the county seat to be moved, it would take a vote of two-thirds of the registered voters in the county to agree on it. With this knowledge now in hand, the supervisors decided to come to an agreement on the date for the referendum on the sole issue of the restoring the courthouse or building anew.
The board members decided to recess their meeting until Friday at 8:30 a.m. at the Justice Court courtroom, where they will make a decision regarding the date for the referendum.
In other news, the board:
• Approved to create a separate fund for the 2012 HOME Project and pay the GTPDD the total sum of $5,000 as an application fee, and authorize the president to sign on behalf of the county.
• Voted to enter into an agreement with the Mississippi Transportation Commission and an interlocal agreement with 19 other counties. The agreement is that the 20 counties will get aerial photography and survey services, and MTC will reimburse each county up to $10,000, and authorize president and clerk to sign on behalf of the county.
• Rescinded the resignation of Christy Johnson from the tax assessor’s office, which had been accepted Dec. 31. She will continue to work with the county on the same terms.
• Authorized and approved the use of direct deposit for legislative credit by the tax assessor’s office.
• Accepted final payment on an ARC grant project for $41,455.89, and authorized the president to sign on behalf of the county.