June 5, 2018 10:48:31 AM
Funding recreation in the county was the topic of the day during Monday's meeting of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors heard from Lowndes Recreation Manager Roger Short on talks to lease ballpark facilities at Lake Lowndes while clarifying how the $50,000 set aside for parks and recreation after the split from the joint city-county parks and recreation last year could be used.
"I'm not asking you to take any kind of action today," Short told the supervisors. "I'm just giving you an update as far as where we are with Lake Lowndes. Two or three months ago, I was asked to come up with a proposal for an inter-local agreement for use to use the three ball fields at Lake Lowndes."
Lake Lowndes and its facilities are owned by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
As part of the county's fledgling parks department, supervisors hope to provide residents in the New Hope area with baseball and softball facilities, which prompted the discussions with the MDWFP.
"Originally, we have estimated the cost for renting the fields to be $15,000 for six months, which is what we consider a season," Short said. "They came back with a proposal of $600 per month for the whole year ($7,200 per year), which is a lot less than I anticipated."
Short said that the county would be responsible for maintaining the facilities, including the road that leads to the fields, which Short estimated would cost the county $12,000 per year.
"At that point, we'd be around $20,000, which is still less than the $30,000 we originally thought we'd have to pay," he said.
Under the agreement, which has yet to be approved by either party, the fields would be available to the general public when not in use by the county.
Parks Department funding
County Administrator Ralph Billingsley told supervisors he had held discussions with Caledonia Parks Department officials about a request for funds from the $50,000 set aside for parks by the county each year.
"They have some capital improvements they would like to make," Billingsley said.
Billingsley said that the county had already spent $7,200 of the $50,000 for a playground in Artesia, leaving $42,800 in available funds for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
"I wanted the board to provide some direction about how to handle this," Billingsley said.
Board President Harry Sanders said the money should be used for a specific purpose.
"This money should be used for capital improvements," Sanders said. "I don't think the money is for paying wages or salaries or to be used for entry fees or anything like that. It should be for hard assets."
Sanders suggested that the county reimburse the communities requesting the funds, but District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith raised an objection.
"When you're talking about projects, it would be hard for Crawford or Artesia to pay for something up front," Smith said. "That would be my problem with that."
Short said that previous projects had been handled by sending the invoices directly to the county for payment, something the supervisors supported.
"The reason I said we should have some type of reimbursement is so we can document how the money has been spent," Sanders said.
The board took no action on that topic, but did pass a resolution making $25,000 available to the Caledonia Parks Department for capital improvements.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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