by Sean Macken
A series of presentations and interactive discussions highlighted Tuesday’s Long Beach Board of Aldermen meeting.
Tracey Scott Williams, Census Bureau Partnership Specialist, provided an overview on the upcoming 2020 Census.
Williams noted that residents will begin to be receive either electronic or paper census materials starting next March. The presentation expressed that Long Beach had a 71% response rate in 2010.
Following these figures, Williams indicated that a poor response could cause Mississippi to lose another Congressional seat like it did in 2010, and that each counted resident equaled $2,053 per person a year in revenue to the state over the 10 year census period. A full accounting was key to the State and Long Beach capturing as much potential revenue as possible and ensuring the state maintained a solid base in Congress.
Additionally, Williams conveyed that part time employment opportunities are available today. More information could be found at www.census.gov/jobs.
Then, Williams asked Mayor Bass and the Board to join with the Census Bureau in forming a Census Complete Count Committee, which would include city leaders from government and the community to ensure citizens respond to the census. Mayor Bass suggested he would follow-up to help lead in the formation of this committee and work with the State’s Census Bureau representatives.
Next, Long Beach High School students representing the Harrison County Tobacco Free Coalition provided a follow-up introduction from their initial offering to the Board on April 16, 2019. The group gave a refresher on the health impacts of smoking on citizens, to include the 500 persons who die from disease tied to 2nd hand smoke.
This presentation included a personal story from a member of the group who grew up with asthma aggravated by relatives and family friends who smoked around her. The group delivered results of a general poll on whether residents would support a City of Long Beach would support a tobacco free ordinance for city properties, which would include the Town Green and City Parks.
The poll, held at the Subway on Pineville Rd., received 200+ votes with over 66% of respondents indicating they would support an ordinance. Mayor Bass wondered if they asked smokers of their opinion and the group quickly noted they did not distinguish smokers vs. non-smokers.
After the Mayor and Board asked for clarification on the intent on the ordinance advocated from the coalition, the team concluded its presentation. The mayor and board members agreed to work with the Harrison County Tobacco Free Coalition representative Ms. Aleshia Jones and the student group to draw-up a draft ordinance to be addressed at a future meeting.
Subsequently, adopting minutes from earlier public meetings, the Board then approved a resolution to seek the support of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors for sand and tree removal the Fetch Park dog park under development adjacent to the City’s Recreation & Senior Center.
The Board then quickly approved a preliminary engineering services contract with the Pickering Firm for work on the Klondyke Rd. and Commission Rd. intersection.
Mayor Bass suggested that the Board approve improvements to the City Cemetery using anticipated bond funds to expand the footprint of the cemetery, add lighting, a lighted flagpole and a pavilion. The Board supported the request.
City Attorney Jim Simpson recommended that the Board should enact mirroring franchise contract requests from C-Spire and Southern Light to lay fiber within the city for Internet and TV services. Simpson, using examples from nearby cities, recommended the city request 5% of future service sales as the franchise fee. The Board concurred to have Simpson draft the contracts to be addressed at the next Board of Alderman meeting on June 4, 2019.
The Board approved a fee waiver request and use of City facilities for the Jeepin’ The Coast, but tabled a request use of the Senior Center by the Carnival Association of Long Beach.
Attention then turned to an agenda item brought by Alderman Donald Frazer to discuss a potential Food Truck Ordinance. Ocean Springs in particular has begun to debate a similar ordinance. Mr. Frazer asked Murky Waters BBQ owner Brandon Atwell to talk about his direct experience as a Food Truck owner.
Atwell deflected any discussion of a Food Truck park in Long Beach. He felt the area around Long Beach was not large enough, in contrast to Austin, TX, to sustain such a park. However, he urged the Board to get in front of regulating how food trucks operated in Long Beach.
The Board asked what requirements he had to satisfy for the OK to operate a food truck. Atwell conveyed all that was required was a health certificate and the Department of Health required he have a containment (brick and mortar) kitchen to store food and to dispose of grease and dirty water.
However, Atwell did tell the board that currently food trucks contract with festival leads, not the city, to participate in festivals. Atwell noted he does pay sales taxes on his revenue, but currently out of state food trucks can come into Long Beach, sell at an approved festival or on private property, and leave without having to pay sales taxes or any fees to the city. The Board asked a series of questions the agreed to hold a work session on June 11th to discuss drafting a potential Food Truck Ordinance.
The rest of the meeting addressed departmental personnel matters and a short executive session that did not result in any formal actions. At this time, the Board voted to adjourn the meeting,