by Calvin Ishee, Associate Publisher

During Board discussion of the proposed 25 year lease agreement for Shaggy’s expansion efforts, Attorney Donald Rafferty outlined some of his biggest concerns on the project, his client has made substantial investments in upgrading his two slips, residents will lose the use of the very popular day pier and local fishermen want it back as well as the possibility of his clients slips being blocked during peak use times.

Rafferty asked the Board to delay approving the proposed lease until a public hearing be held and the plan presented to the public for review and comment. Harbor Master Marty Tiller explained that finalized plans have not been submitted and are still under development. He added that “I don’t see how his slips would be blocked, I’ve talked to him about this, it’s nowhere near his piers.” Tiller provided the Board with a map outlining the space in question which demonstrated that the renters two slips would not be blocked.

At the conclusion of a lengthy discussion regarding the matter, City Attorney Malcolm Jones outlined various changes to the lease agreement as requested by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office. He concluded by saying, “Recommend we move forward to approve” the proposed lease agreement. The Board voted unanimously to approve the proposed lease agreement.

After over a year of ongoing issues it looks like the matter involving a condemned property on North Street may finally be coming to a close. Last year the Board voted unanimously to condemn a trailer owned by John Trepagnier. The property had deteriorated to the point that it was deemed unsafe for human habitation. Both the local police and fire departments refused to go there because of the unsafe condition of the property.

According to Trepagnier, due to health and financial issues, he was unable to make the necessary repairs to the structure as outlined by the City. Although local veterans groups were called in to help Trepagnier, the structure was too far gone to save it.

In the end the City paid to remove the condemned trailer as well as removal and storage of Trepagnier’s personal items. This cost the City almost $6,000 whereby the Board voted 4 for and 1 abstention to place a lien on Trepagnier’s property. City Attorney Jones asked the Board to waive all penalties associated with this matter and the Board voted to approve Jones’s request.

In a logic defying move by our federal government that’s been known to waste and even lose track of billions of federal dollars, the City was forced to pay back one cent for overpayment of a government lease. That’s right, one cent. This one cent was requested by the United States Navy. There’s no telling how much money it cost the taxpayers on this one cent reimbursement.

The Board voted to spend taxpayer money on purchasing three self-contained grinder pumps at a total cost of $10,644; $45,996 for sewer pump repairs at the  Shadowlawn Sewer Pump Station repairs; and $357,939 to pay off the Claims Docket. On another note, the City began the year with four ratification actions whereby Ward 3 Alderman Anthony Hall once again asked about them. As a brief reminder, ratification actions are things done without prior approval by the Board. The City has worked extremely hard to minimize ratification actions to ensure all expenditures of taxpayer money are properly spent.

In the Public Comments portion of the meeting Ward 1 resident Betty Sparkman asked for an update on debris pick up from Hurricane Zeta. Mayor Chipper McDermott commented that they had given the debris pickup contractor eight days off for the Christmas and New Years holidays. He further added that about 75% of the debris had already been picked up throughout the City. PC Debris Pickup Manager Diamond Woodman stated that all debris should be picked up no later that January 30th 2020.