City researching flea market taxes

By Russell Hood

The Webster Progress-Times


City leaders again discussed Garan property use and tax regulations on Feb. 3.

Mayor Dan Burchfield had informed the Board of Aldermen on Jan. 6 that a representative of the Mississippi Department of Revenue’s sales tax division said Eupora is responsible for collecting sales tax from vendors who operate in the city-owned Garan parking lot (or any municipal property) if more than one flea market/yard sale is held there per month, which is done.

Aldermen voted then to ask the MDR representative to address the board at a future meeting. On Feb. 3, board attorney Jacqueline Meek cited a state attorney general’s opinion from June 2010 stating that a city is not responsible for collecting taxes on community-based events such as flea markets unless admission is charged. The city does charge vendors $5 a day when the flea market is held (two weekends a month) but does not charge admission to shoppers.

Aldermen tabled the item last week, and authorized Meek to research the matter further and report back to the board at its next meeting.

Also on Feb. 3, Chris Turnipseed of Watkins Ward and Stafford gave an overview of the firm’s audit of the city’s financial statements for the year ending Sept. 30, 2012. Turnipseed called it “a pretty good audit.”

One finding was that the city did not follow proper advertising procedures in the lease of city land. Burchfield confirmed that this was for agricultural leases at Industrial Park 3 and the airport, and has since been corrected. The city did advertise for these leases this year.

Afterwards, the board voted to engage WWS for a full-scope audit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2013.

The board accepted a bid from William W. Tabb to lease 180 acres in Industrial Park 3 for agricultural purposes for 22 months. His bid, the only one received, was for $4,200 total and is to be paid by two annual payments, each due on March 1.

Because no bids were received to cut and haul hay from the cleared grassland by the runway at the city airport, which was also advertised, the board gave the mayor permission to solicit bids.

The board received two bids for five early warning sirens and equipment: two for Eupora, and one each for Mantee, Mathiston and Walthall. Eupora received a 95 percent grant from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency for the sirens; the other municipalities have agreed to pay the city (as lead applicant) an equal share for their siren match.

ATI Systems of Florida was the low bidder at $88,324, including shipping. Precision Communications Inc., which has offices in Columbus, Tupelo and Amory, bid $94,482.55.

After a representative of the latter company addressed the board and upon Burchfield’s recommendation, the board voted to accept Precision Communications’ bid because the company is local, has a proven record of serviceability to the city and will oversee installation itself.

No comments or questions were heard during a public hearing on the city’s application for a USDA Rural Development grant/loan to buy a new backhoe. After meeting with George Crawford of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, the board voted to contract with the GTPDD to administer a Community Development Block Grant for lagoon stabilization.

The board accepted a donation of $500 from CB&S Bank to the Eupora Police Department to go toward a memorial to Officer Keith Crenshaw, who was killed in the line of duty last year.

Police Chief Gregg Hunter said Wise-Reed Funeral Home has agreed to donate the monument. The $500 will go toward a lighted flagpole beside the monument, he said, and the American Legion will donate any funds above cost.

After meeting with Park Director Beau Powell, the board authorized him to bid up to $12,000 on hosting Dizzy Dean state tournaments this summer. Bid day was Feb. 8. Additionally, the board accepted an updated court fine list. Aldermen also went into executive session to discuss “personnel adjustment” — no action was taken.