December 19, 2012 10:43:50 AM
The Columbus City Council is moving forward with a $1.2 million loan needed for the purchase of some new equipment and the completion of a drainage project. Stephen Edds of Jackson-based Baker Donelson appeared before the council Tuesday night, bringing some good news about the loan with him.
"Christmas has come early for Columbus," Edds said. "We received four bids on the loan. Trustmark came in the lowest with a 1.52 percent interest rate on a draw down note over five years. This is a very positive comment on how the city has managed its finances over the years."
Edds presented the loan arrangement to the board Dec. 4. During the Dec. 4 meeting, Mayor Robert Smith said the drainage project is an ongoing project on 14th Avenue. A portion of the money will go toward the city's approximately $300,000 match on the project. The money will also be used to purchase some new equipment, including a new fire truck for Columbus Fire and Rescue and two pieces of equipment for the Public Works Department. The loan debt is part of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.
The council unanimously voted to pursue the loan. Edds said the paperwork for the loan will be completed by Jan. 3, 2013.
Council members also approved the reallocation of $14,000 to be used to help purchase a new welcome sign on the north side of the city.
The funds represent a portion of the money given to the city by the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau for the maintenance of the Riverwalk and downtown. The CVB board voted Monday to allow the use of the funds for the sign as long as the city and county agreed on the request.
"We're not receiving any new money," Columbus beautification committee member Jan Miller said Wednesday morning. "This is money that we already have but contractually it can only be used for the Riverwalk or Downtown Columbus. This approval will allow us to use $14,000 toward a new welcome sign to be placed at the intersection of Highway 45, Highway 373 and Highway 50. The total project will cost about $22,000. We have already received MDOT approval for this project."
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board approved the hiring of two entry- level firemen for Columbus Fire and Rescue. According to chief financial officer Mike Bernsen, the positions will pay approximately $55,000 each, which includes insurance and benefits. Bernsen said the positions were replacement positions and the money for the new hires was already a part of the operating budget.
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