Como City Board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deer overshadowed during marathon meet

By John Howell Sr.

The problem with an overpopulation of deer that prompted a lengthy discussion of stray animals in Como during October’s meeting of the mayor and aldermen earned scarcely a mention during the November meeting last week.

Instead, there was a demand for a $38,000 payment to the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), (See story, page A9), a 45-minute presentation about insurance for city property that came with a $13,000 price tag, and a potential $25,000 shortfall in revenue sufficient to cover the town’s monthly claims that prompted postponement of bill paying until tonight’s meeting. And so on.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Keith McDaniel representing Scott Insurance of Jackson made the presentation to provide Como’s municipal property insurance and employee bonds.

“I handle the Mississippi municipal properties program for municipalities in Mississippi,” McDaniel said, for 120 state muncipalities, including Sardis, Coldwater, Sledge and Charleston.

“It gives the city a lot broader program than you currently have,” McDaniel said. After describing coverage from water wells to volunteer fire fighters’ liabilty he said his company “gives you equipment breakdown coverage, which is something you don’t have right now.”

McDaniel also said his policy offers “replacement cost” coverage, compared to present coverage which uses “actual cash value” to determine loss replacement.

The annual premium would cost about $12,600, compared to the town’s present premium of $15,500, he said.

After further discussion, including deferred premium payment, aldermen voted unanimously to purchase the coverage.

Town officials also took steps to bring two grants to fruition. North Delta Planning and Development District (NDPDD) representative Roderick Gordon presented an engineering proposal on behalf of David Evans Engineering for work connected with a $100,000 grant to build a park on land donated to the town.

The Evans presentation was the only proposal submitted in response to an advertisement which specified the November 9 award date. The engineer’s fee would amount to $3,100, Gordon said, responding to a question.

“I feel like this thing is getting pushed … ,” Como resident David Marsh, questioning the advertising and selection process that brought the proposal to the town officials for a decision that night.

“We do have processes that we go through to make sure that all the engineering firms in the state know that we are procuring for these type services,” Gordon said.

Aldermen Bill Mitchell, Ruby Higgenbottom and Forster Ruhl voted to accept Evans’ proposal. Alderman Clark Gregory abstained. Alderman Teresa Dishmon arrived later during the meeting.

Gordon then asked the aldermen to authorize advertisement for engineering services to administer a $27,000 Energy Efficiency and Construction Block Grant that Como has been awarded for municipally-owned buildings. After several questions, aldermen approved the request with a 4 to 0 vote.

Engineer David Evans, who attended the Nov. 9 meeting, told the mayor and aldermen about stimulus money that might be available through the State Revolving Fund (SFR) for rehabilitation of the municipal sewage treatment system. Mitchell Technical Services (MTS) representative Michael Stewart had described the work needed on the system during a February meeting. In September, Mitchell met again with town officials to warn them of the possibility of additional wastewater testing requirements that could cost the town $20,000. During the September meeting, Mitchell first mentioned the possibility of qualifying for the SRF loan. MTS, under contract with Como, performs certain required testing and maintenance at the sewage treatment facility.

“They have what they call what they call ‘principle forgiveness.’” Evans said. “… It’s a 100 percent loan, then when you get ready to start paying it off they forgive 75 percent of your principle; it’s basically a grant,” Evans told the town officials and citizens.

Evans said that the town had missed the deadline for evaluation for SRF loan in 2011, but received authorization to begin the application process for SRF distributed in 2012.

Como’s November meeting began at 5:30 p.m. with a public hearing on behalf of its Historic Preservation Committee to allow citizen input on the second part of a process that began in 2004 and resulted in the recognition of the commercial area of Main Street and Elder Frank Ward Avenue as an historic district.

“Both sides of Main Street were declared to be a local historic district, but we have to have it set up in a separate ordinance,” committee spokesman Meg Bartlett said.

“This new ordinance …. is just describing and giving the physical address of every building on both sides of the street,” she added.

Aldermen — about two and one half hours later — voted, on motion of Mitchell, seconded by Ruhl, four to one to adopt the commission’s recommendation to publish the ordinance “designating the North Main Preservation District of Como.” Higgenbottom and Dishmon joined the “aye” vote; Gregory opposed.

Bartlett introduced architect Tim Duke of Hernando in connection with the historic preservation commission’s second order of business, the stipulation agreed to in August by Rooster Blues owner Scott Michaels that resulted in aldermen lifting a stop-work order at his building. Michaels agreed in August to place in escrow an amount adequate to restore the front of his Main Street building to its original condition. In return, aldermen voted to lift the stop-work order.

Duke presented two price estimates for the restoration — one for $11,501.50 and another for $36,500 — along with architectural drawings depicting the original appearance of the store-front windows that Michaels had altered during the remodeling prior to opening his club. The estimates triggered a few minutes of discussion before municipal clerk Scott Rhines spoke up.

“I think … the motion was that Scott (Michaels) would pay the highest of the three bids, … that the preservation commission would be the ones to get the estimates and Scott would place in escrow the highest of the three bids obtained by the commission,” Rhines said.

In police department business, aldermen voted 4 to 0 to move part-time policeman Keith Smith to full time. Voting were Mitchell, Dishmon, Mitchell and Gregory. Alderman Higgenbottom had left after the meeting had lasted over three hours.

Aldermen also approved Police Chief Fred Boskey’s request to open an account for funds generated from drug seizures.

After reviewing bills to be paid and funds available to pay them with, aldermen set a meeting for tonight at 6 p.m. to pay the town’s claims.

And also, late in the meeting, came the inquiry about the deer population.

“I’m waiting on an answer,” said Betty Weaver who, during the October meeting had requested that selected bow hunters be allowed to thin the deer population.

“We’ve got to look at the liability of the town,” Mayor Everette Hill.

“You said by now you’d have an answer; … you’ll be able to do something,” she said before leaving the meeting.