Ongoing water issues and youth outreach were the two Christmas gifts waiting for the Board of Aldermen when they met on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
After approving the minutes from two previous meetings, the board discussed a policy on sprinklers and water disconnections.
Mayor Chuck Cariker said that town officials had been asked if customers could disconnect meters at their homes and with their sprinkler systems during the winter. Cariker said the town charges a $50 reconnect fee in situations when the water has been turned off for nonpayment.
Alderman Eloise Carson asked if customers paid a fee for disconnecting service and reconnecting it.
Cariker said the town had never charged for disconnecting water, but he felt “at minimum” customers should be charged for reconnecting to the system.
“Correct me if I’m wrong here, but if the sprinkler meter is turned off, they won’t be using any water,” Knabb said.
Cariker agreed but said disconnecting the meter and taking the customer out of the billing system would take time.
Knabb suggested that a special session on reading meters be held and that the discussion continue during that.
The board opted not to hold the item, and alderman Edward Hunsucker made a motion to charge a $50 reconnect fee.
“We can’t work for nothing,” Hunsucker said.
The motion, which passed unanimously, includes residential and business customers. Anyone choosing to disconnect their service during the off peak season will pay $50 to reconnect to the Town of Tunica’s water system if they choose to do so.
Cariker then moved on to the town’s water facilities plan, saying he had learned more about the process since the special meeting on Dec. 16.
During that session, the board discussed whether amendments could be made to the plan once it had been approved by state officials. Cariker said he had learned that the process includes a first draft, review by the town, a public hearing, revisions following the public hearing; then the final copy is submitted to Jackson.
“After that, we can’t add to the plan,” Cariker said. “We can do anything in the plan or parts of anything in the plan, but we can’t put anything in it.”
The board took no action, but suggested they add additional projects to the six suggested by engineer Ed Davis.
The board then received another request from James Dunn to administer a grant from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
Previously, Dunn asked the board to consider facilitating a grant supporting the youth entrepreneurship program sponsored by the Tunica County Community Development Coalition. Dunn said he could not ask the county to administer the grant, due to his role as a county supervisor.
The program “exposes kids to the business world at an early age,” according to Dunn. It is a part-time effort that Dunn hopes to expand to full time status year round with the grant.
“Some kids may not live in the city, but we do serve some. More importantly, the parents of these children invest heavily in the city. They support downtown and this would be a way for you to give them a positive response,” Dunn said.
Knabb asked if Dunn’s proposal was the same as the last time he made the request.
Dunn said it was and the grant was for $50,000.
Cariker said the board had concerns about the single line audit required when an entity accepts grant funds.
Boren said the town would also have no say over how the funds are administered.
Dunn said each month, TCCDC would present the appropriate documentation for the town to draw down on the grant. The employee would be paid by TCCDC and reimbursed by the grant.
Cariker said he would like to check into the cost of a single line audit and contact the Department of Public Safety. The board took no action on the request, until further information can be gathered.
Before adjourning, the board received a report from Airport Commissioner Bob Gann. Gann said the facility recently gained a jet bridge, designed to keep passengers out of the elements when getting on and off the airplanes. He said the commission has also learned that AirTran’s final flights in and out of Tunica will be in May 2011.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen will meet again on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 3 p.m. at Town Hall, located at the corner of Main Street and River Road.