Mayor Flaggs to answer questions from residents

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will meet with Vicksburg residents Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the City Hall Annex to talk about the city and take questions from the audience.

“I’m going to talk about the direction of the city as it relaters to capital improvement, the financial situation of the city and take all the licks and calls,” he said. The program will be broadcast live over TV23, the city’s local cable access channel.

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“We may do a call in,” he said. “You can call in; I don’t have to see you.”

Flaggs’ announcement came Friday before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the city’s $32.65 million budget, and before his announcement the city is going to begin cross-training its employees.

Flaggs held a similar program in January 2016, in which he discussed his goals for the first six months of that year.

Among the possible topics for the program:

• According to an audit report on the city’s 2016 finances, the city is in good financial shape with its net worth increased from $112 million to $115.2 million with total assets of $199 million and total liabilities of $92.3 million. It ended fiscal year 2016 with a $25.3 million fund balance.

• The Board of Mayor and Aldermen are preparing to draw down the second $9 million of an $18 million capital improvements bond issue it approved in 2015. Flaggs has dedicated $1 million of that money toward improvements in the Kings community. A committee of residents from that area presented a plan for the money to the board Aug. 31.

• The board has also begun the process for issuing bonds to fund building the sports complex and an access road from Dana Road off U.S. 61 South to Halls Ferry Road. The board also authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for proposals from engineering firms to design the road and prepare plans and specifications for the project.

• City officials are awaiting permits and approval from the Mississippi Department of Health before advertising for bids for the city’s auxiliary waterline. The project began in 2010 after work at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center on Washington Street threatened the city’s main waterline.

IMS Engineers of Jackson was hired to handle the water project in November 2010 during the administration of former Mayor Paul Winfield, and proposed a route that took the waterline from the water treatment plant on Haining Road, under North Washington Street, across the Vicksburg National Military Park, then down Fort Hill Drive to tie into the existing line at Jackson Street.

The board in 2015 fired IMS after paying the company $212,331.50 between Feb. 15, 2011, and Aug. 29, 2014, and in January 2016 signed a $193,589 contract with Dallas-based EJES, which has an office in Jackson, to review, re-examine and possibly redraw the plans in an attempt to keep the waterline project within budget.

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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