Flaggs: Create board for complex

Published 8:40 pm Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. wants a commission to oversee the design, construction and operation of the proposed sports complex.

“The new board ought to appoint a commission of five or seven members and let them take over the sports complex,” he said. “And we need to appoint people with the expertise to oversee it to make sure that everything is done right with the approval of the board.

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“We don’t have the expertise. The employees of the city can’t handle this. We need to go out and make certain we have a commission.”

The commission, which could include members from the county and the city, would oversee the entire project from design through operations once the complex is built, Flaggs said, adding the alderman over recreation and the city’s recreation director should be ex officio (nonvoting) members.

“That’s the professional way to do it.”

Sixty-two percent of the voters approved a 2 percent special sales tax on hotel room rentals and food and beverage sales inside the city to fund the proposed complex on city property off Fisher Ferry Road. The tax is estimated to bring in about $1 million a year.

Flaggs said city attorney Nancy Thomas and accounting director Doug Whittington are working with the Mississippi Department of Revenue to determine the proper procedure to implement the tax.

“We got it passed, they’ll (the commission) take if from here,” Flaggs said. “We already have the renderings, they’ll decide who they want to work with, who they want to design, construct, lease, everything. The whole operation; all we (the Board of Mayor and Aldermen) have to do is give it our approval, and we need to appoint people with the expertise, not political people.”

He said some consideration will be given to the people who served on the recreation committee he appointed in 2015 to look at the city’s recreation programs and facilities and recommended the city build a sports complex.

“If I can get the agreement of the board, I’m going to recommend Omar Nelson be chairman of the commission,” Flaggs said. Nelson, a lawyer, was chairman of the recreation committee.

South Ward Alderman-elect Alex Monsour said having a commission over the sports complex may be good to have “to make sure that all monies are being spent properly.”

“This is the first I’ve heard of it, and I may have to look into it, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have oversight on construction and cost.”

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said he had no problem appointing a commission, but was concerned about its size.

Having too many people on the commission, he said, “You have that much more attitudes, opinions, and ideas trying to come to the same conclusion, and I think it would kind of stymie what they need to be doing to be able to get this thing up and running.”

He said the commission will need a chairman and an attorney other that the city attorney to represent it and “hopefully, if we appoint this commission, they’ll have some teeth other than being a patsy for the elected people. That’s one thing I don’t want. I want them to be autonomous.”

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.

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