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Council tables $5 million infrastructure bond issue

 

J5 Broaddus Senior Project Manager Robyn Eastman

J5 Broaddus Senior Project Manager Robyn Eastman

 

 

Nathan Gregory

 

Action on a $5 million bond issue for capital improvements was tabled during Tuesday's Columbus City Council meeting. 

 

An item to discuss and approve the proposed bond, which would require a 1.1 mill property tax increase, was on the agenda sent from the city to local media outlets last week, but councilmen agreed before the meeting to strike the item so they could have more time to review the lists of projects the funds would be used for.  

 

The council still opened the floor to the public to speak on the plan, but no one in the audience, which filled roughly half the courtroom seats at the municipal complex, came forward. 

 

City project managing firm J5 Broaddus compiled lists of drainage, sidewalk and street improvement needs it worked on with each of the city's six councilmen to city chief operations officer David Armstrong Monday morning, senior project manager Robyn Eastman said. The lists were then given to councilmen, who reviewed them and opted to meet with Eastman again to go over the lists compiled for each ward and refine the capital improvement plan. Since none of the lists have been made public and are not yet finalized in a way that can be presented, Armstrong said moving forward would have been a disservice to the public. 

 

"There were some issues in two or three of the wards," Armstrong said. "We did not have an accurate road list by this time. It just wasn't complete, so the council felt like to go forward with a resolution at this time wouldn't be fair to anybody and certainly not fair ... to the taxpayers." 

 

Armstrong said he thought the lists would have been ready Tuesday and expects them to be when the council meets again June 3.  

 

Eastman said the amount of work budgeted varied in each of the six ward and some councilmen wanted to add street repair projects to their lists. In order to ensure an equal split of about $4.5 million among the wards after engineering, managing and legal fees are paid, adjustments will have to be made, he said. 

 

"I think they want a little more balancing done, so I think there's going to have to be some give and take with the council members," Eastman said. "I think it was probably a prudent move on their part to get a solid list together that they ought to get out to the public long before two weeks from tonight." 

 

Councilmen did not comment during the meeting on the proposed bond issue, millage increase or project lists.  

 

Columbus Mayor Robert Smith was not present at the meeting because he was attending the National Main Street Association Conference in Detroit, Michigan. Councilmen approved his request to travel to the conference and approve city payment for reimbursement of expenses. Vice-Mayor Gene Taylor presided over the council meeting. 

 

 

 

In other business, the board: 

 

 

 

■ Approved Smith's request to use his city vehicle to travel to Itta Bena for the Mississippi Valley State University Foundation quarterly board meeting. Councilman Bill Gavin was the lone dissenter in the 3-1 vote. Councilman Kabir Karriem was present for the first half of the meeting but left before this vote; 

 

■ Approved a request to advertise for bids on the 14th Avenue ditch improvement project pending approval from all parties involved with the project; 

 

■ Approved a request from Karriem to send a letter to the Columbus Municipal School District requesting a representative come before the board and provide an update during a future meeting; 

 

■ Approved a four-way stop at the intersection of Fifth Street and Sixth Avenue South; 

 

■ Approved a resolution authorizing a lease purchase of water meters by Columbus Light & Water.

 

The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.

 

 

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