Supervisors discuss financing crane, radio

Published 1:03 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Faced with replacing an inoperable crane, getting a new emergency radio system and putting a new roof on the Warren County Library, Warren County supervisors Monday discussed the feasibility of borrowing up to $7 million in general obligation bonds to cover those needs.

The supervisors met Monday morning with Port of Vicksburg director Wayne Mansfield and Demery Grubbs of Government Consultants of Jackson, a company that specializes in advising local governments on finance, to discuss the county’s options to finance the projects.

“We’re looking at borrowing some serious money,” County Administrator John Smith said, “(and) I don’t want to have to borrow money twice through G.O. bonds. So we need to work this out.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The board directed Grubbs to examine the county’s options to show how much it could borrow and the potential payback form 10 to 20 years.

The county wants to replace the present emergency radio system and join the state’s Mississippi Wireless Integrated Network, or MSWIN, a statewide emergency radio network, with the city of Vicksburg. The county’s share of the cost for equipment is placed at about $3.5 million.

Replacing the crane is expected to cost about $2.5 million, although the board may consider an E-Crane on a pedestal, which could coast about $3 million, while replacing the library roof was estimated at $150,000 to $160,000.

Smith said the radio system has to be replaced.

“We’re running on borrowed time,” District 1 Supervisor John Arnold said. “If we decide to go ahead with the radio station, it would be almost a year before it’s in operation.”

“Going to the bond market is something you don’t do very often. It makes sense if you do it all at one time versus doing one thing now and another six months later,” Grubbs said.

Financing all three, he said, would make sense, with current condition of the bond market and interest rates. “Currently, y’all don’t have that much debt, as far as the county is concerned,” he said.

If the board wants to use G.O. to finance the three projects, it must first publish an intent notice that it intends to issue bonds not to exceed a set notice.

Grubbs said a petition objecting to the bonds must be signed by 10 percent, or 1,500, registered voters.

If there is no petition filed against the notice, the county can proceed with a resolution to issue the bonds.

Once the resolution is issued, Grubbs said, the county has 24 months after issuing the intent resolution to borrow the money.

“The intent resolution doesn’t mean you have to borrow the money,” he said. “It’s just a step in the requirement of the law.”

The board declared an emergency in mid-September to repair the crane at the port after learning it was broken, and is expected to receive estimates to repair it when it meets Oct. 19.

Mansfield told the board the four-decades old crane did not receive proper maintenance under a contract from pervious port operator, Kinder Morgan.

The board was considering replacing the crane with a similar piece of equipment, but Chris Maxwell, terminal manager for WATCO, the Pittsburg, Kansas-based company which owns the short line railroad in the port and now operates the port under a contract with the county, suggested going to the E-Crane, which he said was more efficient.

The crane uses a design based on a parallelogram style boom that provides a direct mechanical connection between the counterweight and the load to remain balanced. Maxwell said going to the crane would improve the technology at the port.

The library’s roof problems involve leaks. County building and grounds director Chuck Thornton told the board the roof has been repaired several times, adding it is hard to find the source of the leaks on the building’s gravel and rubber roof.

He suggested replacing the roof with a pitched metal roof, a plan that would require the approval of the city’s Architectural Review Board because the library is in the city’s historic district.

The board decided to get approval from the Architectural Review Board before hiring an architect.

“You don’t want to spend a lot of money hiring an architect and getting all those plans and the have someone else tell you can’t do it,” District 5 Supervisor Richard George said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

email author More by John