July 15, 2013 9:46:20 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
On the third Tuesday of each month, Columbus councilmen typically hold their recess meeting, but this week they join some 1,800 municipal officials across the state in Biloxi for the annual Mississippi Municipalities League conference.
Elected officials will gather with representatives from state agencies to discuss the usual concerns facing municipalities -- infrastructure, economic development and funding being at the forefront.
A notable addition to this year's meeting is a special training track on parliamentary procedure for the 29-percent of state-wide city leaders who are newly elected, according to MML Executive Director Shari Veazey. Those courses will educate them on basic operations of municipal government concerning finance, ethics, land use and other areas they will routinely visit in their new roles.
"We also will be looking at some issues concerning transportation funding, which is a huge issue for cities," Veazey said. "One of the number one services for cities is keeping their streets in good order, so we're looking at some transportation funding in the next session or trying to be part of something that's proposed in the next session."
Columbus Vice Mayor Gene Taylor said the objective each year is to gather information from the conference and use it to better the city of Columbus. One goal councilmen have is to speak with representatives of state agencies concerning potential grant funding for needed infrastructure upgrades.
"From an infrastructure standpoint, if we can find someone or talk to someone concerning grants to help eliminate flooding in the city, sidewalks, bike trails -- something to enhance the quality of living here," Taylor said.
Other city leaders will also be in attendance at the conference, which ends Wednesday. Mayor Robert Smith, chief operations officer David Armstrong and chief financial officer Milton Rawle will be among them.
The MML is the official non-profit private organization of cities and towns in the state. The organization lobbies state and federal legislatures, provides education for officials and is a networking tool for elected city leaders.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.