Selectmen extend face covering mandate through May 26

The West Point Board of Selectmen with Mayor Robbie Robinson met Tuesday to discuss the renewal of the Emergency Declaration. (Photos by Donna Summerall, DTL)
Staff Writer

The West Point Board of Selectmen donned facial coverings for its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

"We are taking the precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 very seriously," Mayor Robbie Robinson said. "We appreciate everyone's interest in these proceedings. We want the public to know we are still practicing social distancing. There are very few people here but we are live streaming and appreciate your interest."

The board took under consideration the resolution authorizing the issuance of General Obligation Bonds for $2,250,000 to improve streets and other related purposes.

Troy Johnson came before the board to inform them of the next step in the process.

"This authorizes the issuance of the bonds with an issuance of up to $2,250,000," Johnson said. "That will be tax exempt General Obligation Bonds. The term is 15 years. The resolution sets forth these terms: the interest, like 99 percent of all bonds, will be paid semi-annually and it will be redeemed in seven years, so you will get better interest rates."

This bond resolution sets the sale date for the bonds for June 9. The notice will be published in the paper for bids. Bids will be accepted that day.

"I will come back to your meeting that night and we'll discuss and award the lowest bid," Johnson said. "The last thing the resolution does, it approves the form of the preliminary official statement. The prospectus is like stocks, it explains West Point, it explains the bond issue. A week before the sale, we will send out these documents all across the south to underwriters and potential bond purchasers to bid on them."

The mayor brought up the prior bonds the city has, with one having rolled off in December.

"It will not increase taxes because the principal to be paid will be less than we paid last year," Robinson said.

"In the resolution we have parks, streets and sidewalks, it has to be spent within the parameters of the resolution," Johnson said. "If you use only $1 million on streets, the rest can be spent on parks. You can finagle with it to make it work."

What isn't spent can be used toward the payment of the interest.

The issuance of the GO Bonds was approved unanimously.

"Item number five on the agenda is to the approve the resolution urging Congress to support direct federal funding to all municipalities in Mississippi to help fight COVID-19 and protect local citizens from the effect of the novel coronavirus," Robinson said.

The resolution was approved unanimously.

Selectmen also considered a sunset policy for COVID-19 service disconnects in the Water and Light Department.

"The May 12 action by the Public Service Commission ordered the disconnect was to expire May 15, but it has been extended to Tuesday, May 26,โ€ Robinson said. "But it will not be extended beyond that date. So terminations may begin Wednesday, May 27. But ours is set for Wednesday June 10."

Ward 1 Selectwoman Leta Turner asked when the document was drafted, was the shut-off date a May 15 deadline or May 27.

"The document stating May 27 was sent out today," Robinson said. "So originally it was May 15."

Robinson said other neighboring municipalities were adopting June 1 as the final date, with West Point at June 10.

"There will be a notice in the next round of billing to call attention to the final date," Robinson said. "To allow customers to call and make arrangements to pay their bills."

Randy Jones said each billing cycle will inform the household of how much they owe and when it is due.

Ward 2 Selectman William Binder asked how the public can make arrangements for payments without entering the Light and Water Department.

"We want them to call and make arrangements," Jones said. "They can pay at the kiosks or at the drive up window. But to sign the forms they will have to come to the lobby."

Robinson said the Water and Light Department would work with citizens to pay the bills, doing everything they can to assist them.

The board unanimously approved the June 10 date for delinquent payments owed to the Light and Water Department due to the virus.

"Now on the West Church Hill Road Project," Robinson said. "The state was kind enough to assist us with $500,000 to contribute to this. The county issued notice for bids, and if the bids come in slightly more than the engineers estimate, the we need a letter of consent. The low bid came in April 23, is $856,873.30, so we need to approve the awarding of the contract to Falcon Contracting."

The board unanimously approved the awarding to the contract to Falcom Contracting, concurring with the Clay County Board of Supervisors.

"We now need to approve the payment of $60,911.45, to the Clay County Board of Supervisors," Robinson said. "Toward preliminary costs, with this coming from the $500,000 awarded to us by the state."

The board unanimously approved of the payment of $60,911,45, to the Board of Supervisors for the West Church Hill Road Project.

The board is asked to consider bid tabs for the South West Point Substation for PECO Foods, of $261,654.24, coming in under the estimate of $300,000.

The bids were unanimously approved.

Robinson said the board is still discussing the face-covering issue.

"There have been three new cases over the weekend," Ward 4 Selectman Keith McBrayer, said. "I know we have discussed this heavily and the implementation of wearing face coverings only started yesterday at noon. But the numbers are going in the right direction. We are testing more and not having a spike in the numbers. The City of Starkville has done away with its mandate. The citizens of West Point are doing the right things, but it should be up to the business owners whether or not people need to wear a face covering inside their businesses.โ€

"I'd like to make a motion for the end date to go info effect for tonight, May 12 at 8 p.m." McBrayer said. "Would anyone like to discuss this? If anyone would like to talk about it."

The use of face coverings would still be highly encouraged, just not mandated, according to McBrayer.
Turner asked EMA Director Torrey Williams about the speed of getting back the test results from those who have been tested.

"It depends on which testing center is used,โ€ Williams said. "It varies, some testing facilities can have them back in two days, others it may take five to seven days."

Robinson agreed that it is hard to acquire information from the Mississippi State Department of Health.

Ward 2 Selectman William Binder made a motion to extend the resolution to wear face coverings when entering a retail business for two weeks from the original date, ending Tuesday, May 26.

Selectmen Keith McBrayer and Ken Poole voted no to extend the resolution.

Selectmen William Binder, Leta Turner and Jasper Pittman voted yes.

The resolution was extended through May 26, to continue to require facial covering when entering in retail establishments.

The West Point Board of Selectmen adjourned until Tuesday, June 9.