Bridge commission expects $1.2 million budget in 2004

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 10, 2003

[7/10/03]Expenses are up and income is down if only slightly in the proposed 2004 budget of the Vicksburg Bridge Commission.

The commission, which oversees the operation of the old Mississippi River bridge, is expecting an income of $1.2 million, about $30,000 less than last year. The decrease is largely due to low interest rates, said Herman Smith, who was hired nearly a year ago as bridge superintendent.

In 2003, nearly $440,000 was spent on engineering and repair costs that had not been planned.

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This year’s budget, adopted by the five-member commission Wednesday, calls for nearly $1.2 million, about $90,000 more than last year in total expenses, with the bulk of that falling under track expenses.

Those expenses include costs to repair the actual tracks, while repairs to a shifted pier fall under bridge-structure expenses.

Smith said the increase is “because of a huge railroad bill,” that may need to be paid pending an opinion from the attorney general.

He said the bill is for timbers that were replaced on the bridge before he became superintendent.

Smith said the paperwork for the bill is missing, and he has not seen the bill since he has been superintendent.

Smith also said the attorney general’s opinion is needed to determine whether the bridge commission has to pay the bill because it could have exceeded the statute of limitations.

Additionally, engineering expenses have doubled in the proposed budget.

Smith said those costs are up because engineers are trying to find a solution to piers that have been sinking and the possibility of having an annual inspection.

The bridge commission receives monthly payments from Kansas City Southern and utility companies that use the 73-year-old span to cross the river.

In other action, the commission:

Approved minutes from the previous meeting.

Accepted the financial report for the month of June.

Approved payrolls, taxes, retirement and claims figures.