Thursday, July 24, 2008
County road, bridge work ready to go
By SUE WATSON
Several State Aid road and bridge projects are about to clear paperwork hurdles.
The repair of two bridges on Old Highway 7 South near Highway 310 may clear State Aid soon, with mitigation covenants signed and invoices cleared. The documents that will allow Marshall County to purchase wetlands from a wetlands bank, at a cost of $800 paid to Wildlife Services in Warren County and $12,000 to a private foundation, clears the project of mitigation hurdles.
Kent Smith, attorney for the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, explained that new federal legislation makes it possible to purchase wetlands directly from mitigation banks at the actual cost of the acreage.
He was briefed on the new legislation as were supervisors at the mid-summer convention of the Mississippi Supervisors Association.
“I understood actual property is put in a bank and you buy acreage out of the bank, instead of having to beg someone or somebody holding us hostage (high prices). I thought it was good news,” Smith said.
The county had shopped in various places in the state for acreage held in a wetlands bank and prices to purchase the estimated three acres were quoted as high as $20,000 an acre at one time, according to supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett.
In other road projects, the board approved an order to allow CenturyTel and Northcentral Electric Power Association to relocate lines along a segment of St. Paul Road. Bids are to be opened August 18, for the improvements on St. Paul.
During the discussion of road and bridge work, county administrator Larry Hall apprised the board that Benton County has requested that Marshall County sell them some cold mix.
Hall said it is difficult to know how much to charge since material and fuel prices are in such a state of flux.
While that topic was under discussion, Hall recommended some materials in recent package of the bids that were taken under advisement, then later rejected. The board decided rebid the materials with 90 day price quotes.
Contractors bidding road supplies may offer better prices if the bids are short rather than let for contract for a year, he said. Fuel-based material costs are so unstable that contractors may bid high to protect themselves.
The board approved a motion to reject some bid items taken June 16 and rebid them.
Supervisor George Zinn III suggested the county charge Benton the cost to replace cold mix at today’s prices and the board approved his motion.
Del Stover reported to supervisors recently on behalf of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority.
He said a large delegation representing the agricultural aviation sector showed up at IDA recently requesting the use of the runways for crop-dusting activities.
The Federal Aviation Administration and Mississippi Department of Transportation discourage agricultural aviators from flying in and out of a general aviation airport, he said.
One agricultural aviator did not want to land his million dollar aircraft on a grass field, he said. And as ag-aviators fly early, no employees at the airport wanted to report so soon, he said.
Moving on to a sewer project IDA wants to put in place at Highway 72 and Cayce Road, Stover said a site visit and site inspection were held recently in which representatives with Community Development Block Grants visited some residences in the area.
“They saw enough to convince them (the sewer project is needed),” he said.
Stover advised that the IDA board reviewed and approved its new budget for fiscal year 2008-09. The operating budget will remain the same as last year with the exception of salaries and benefits, he said.
He asked supervisors to approve a freeport warehouse tax exemption for Marshall County Hardwood in Potts Camp. The company bought the lumber mill and yard from Memphis Hardwood Flooring in December 2007 and moved in in March 2008. Therefore Marshall County Hardwood has requested freeport warehouse ad valorem tax exemption for the remaining nine months of the year, he said.
The new company has purchased $600,000 in new equipment and has added 10 new jobs, he said.
The board approved a motion to grant a freeport warehouse license to the company.
Zoning and safety business
Supervisors discussed numerous lot cleanup concerns with zoning director Conway Moore.
Hugh Hollowell, director of emergency management, reported that insurance rebate money is in and ready to be distributed to the fire departments. He requested the fire departments be issued the remaining half of the millage allotted to the departments. Both requests were granted.
Chancery clerk’s report
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas reported a total of $609,176 in bills and claims to be paid for the month ending June 30.
He also asked supervisors to approve the release of third quarter budget dollars to the departments.
Solid waste disposal
Steve Horton with Resourceful Environmental Services sat down with supervisors to ask for a 3 percent increase in residential garbage collection bills - all agreed upon in the contract with R.E.S. and Marshall County in August 2006.
He said diesel fuel has increased by $2 a gallon since last year, and asked for a fuel cost adjustment, as well.
The consumer’s bill will go from $10.10 to $10.42 a month with the three percent CPI increase, he said.
He said R.E.S. feels it is justified in asking for a fuel adjustment because new legislation now allows the company to request an adjustment quarterly.
If the board approves the fuel adjustment, R.E.S. would not ask for another fuel adjustment unless the price of diesel fuel goes over $5.25 a gallon, he said. The fuel adjustment would be decreased if diesel dipped below $4.25 a gallon, he said.
Thomas asked if R.E.S. would consider any other options, such as going to a skipped week schedule.
Horton said R.E.S. can get the garbage from 400 residences in a truck, but only the garbage of 275 residences in a truck if it did not run the routes as often.
Stretching out the schedule would require the company buy more trucks and hire more drivers, he said.
Hall asked Horton what option R.E.S. has if the board says no to the fuel adjustment.
Horton said his company is currently “eating the $2 a gallon” increase in diesel fuel costs.
“No one could foresee diesel fuel would balloon up $2 a gallon,” he said. “If prices would ever stop going up and let us catch up with it, we would be alright.”
He said the Legislature did see an urgent need for private companies to be able to do something (about escalating fuel costs).
Horton believes the fuel oil market will eventually bottom out.
“It cannot continue to escalate,” he said. “It is really hitting everybody’s pocketbook.”
Bennett asked how much of the $1.08 requested a month in fuel adjustment is profit and how much is cost to R.E.S.
“Almost all is increased fuel costs,” he said.
Supervisor Eddie Dixon asked Horton to wait until all supervisors were present to bring Horton’s requests to the board for a vote.
Supervisor Keith Taylor was absent.
The board voted to table the matter until the next meeting.
In his attorney’s report, Smith said the estimated cost to purchase and renovate the Buford building is $320,000.
An IDA search committee to select an executive director is now down to a group of four members, he said.
Smith asked the board to authorize Thomas to destroy all handwritten notes taken during proceedings of the board of supervisors once the minutes of a meeting have been approved, adopted and filed at the chancery office.
Smith’s recommendation followed an attorney general’s opinion that the minutes of record are the official proceedings of the board of supervisors.
“The board can only speak through its minutes, so our notes can only add to the confusion of everyone’s notes,” he said. “There is no reason to keep them and the attorney general supports (their destruction.)”
The final action of the board before going into executive session at noon was to motion to run the revised dog ordinances in the legal pages of The South Reporter, then adopt them.
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