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City donates land, services for Burns Bottom project


Kristin Mamrack



The Columbus City Council Tuesday unanimously voted to donate 14.9 acres of city-owned property at Burns Bottoms and in-kind services for a proposed six-field soccer complex to be located on 70 acres of property at Burns Bottom. 


Prior to voting to donate the property, and following a plea from Columbus resident Chuck Yarborough to consider Burns Bottom as the site for the complex, the council also unanimously voted to accept the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors'' earlier designation of Burns Bottom as the site for the proposed complex. 


The council, supervisors and officials with the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority will meet Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Municipal Complex to discuss funding the project. 


Officials are working to get options on the property from 31 landowners in the Burns Bottom area. 


In other matters, the council: 


n Voted to adopt the 2009-2010 Fiscal Year budget, which reflects no millage increase. The council also adopted a 2009-2010 Fiscal Year millage total of 99.74 mills, including 36.77 mills for the city and 62.97 mills for the Columbus Municipal School District. 


n Voted to table a discussion of a recycling agreement. 


The council was scheduled to discuss the city''s recycling agreement with Triangle Maintenance Service, but received a request from Hayden Crume of Mississippi Industrial Waste Supply and Stan Shurden of Starkville Recycling to consider putting the city''s recycling business out for bids. 


"Our company provides a similar, if not the same service (as Triangle Maintenance Service), and we are looking to expand our service," Crume said. 


Triangle Maintenance''s contract with the city expires Sept. 30. 


"(We''re) providing (recycling for Starkville at) a cost-free basis, except for materials," Shurden said. "And we''d like the opportunity to expand." 


"Together with the county, we have made recycling in Columbus and Lowndes County a success," said Scott Hannon of Triangle Maintenance Service. "We''ve put in place a plan that makes it available to the entire community. We''re not through with our work and we would appreciate your support." 


The council did not discuss whether to put the business out for bid or to stay with Triangle Maintenance Service and tabled the issue. 


n Tabled a request from city Federal Programs and Building Inspections Director George Irby for a commitment to provide $275,000, at a later, unknown date, in matching funds to secure $1.1 million to complete a drainage improvement project, which is partially finished from Propst Park to Seventh Avenue.  


Irby noted he didn''t know a date the money would be needed or whether the city would be awarded the federal grant money. 


"That''s a lot of money," said the city''s chief financial officer, Mike Bernsen. "We don''t have the money; it''s not budgeted." 


"This might be a once-in-the-next-five-or-10-years opportunity," said Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, noting city officials have been trying to get the grant money for years. "And the ditch is awful. I feel sorry for the homeowners down there." 


"We cannot continue to close our budgets by digging into cash," said Bernsen. 


"We''re going to be out of money, guys," said the city''s chief operating officer, David Armstrong. "It really bugs me, ''cause it''s like you buy this, you buy that. We can''t find the money, ''cause it''s not there.  


"I''m warning you," he continued. "We are in a no-growth situation. You cannot borrow yourself into prosperity; you can only borrow yourself into bankruptcy." 


"I think we''d be awfully foolish, if we didn''t listen to our financial people," said Ward 3 Councilman Charlie Box.  


"I do think we need to be frugal and prudent with the money we have," agreed Ward 6 Councilman Bill Gavin.




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