Flaggs calls for town hall meeting to discuss future of city’s animal shelter

Published 2:12 pm Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is calling a town hall meeting to discuss the future of the city’s animal shelter.

The meeting, set for Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m., at the Robert M. Walker Building on Walnut Street is to determine if there is sufficient support for building a new animal shelter with money from a proposed capital improvements program.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved a resolution asking the Legislature to pass a local and private, or special, bill allowing the city to hold a public referendum to levy a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund a 10-year, $55 million capital improvements program.

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Flaggs introduced the idea for the tax in April 2018, but a new animal shelter was not included in the list of projects funded by the proposed additional sales tax. The referendum on the tax will be included on the 2021 municipal general election ballot.

Flaggs called the meeting after the shelter was discussed at Monday’s board meeting.

“This is an opportunity for the people who want the shelter to be included in it and at the same time get the input from the public and get the status of the shelter,” he said.

Flaggs said he would use up to $1 million of the proposed capital improvements program funds for the shelter.

“I’m told it would cost about $800,000 to do what they’re talking about doing, but I don’t know that,” he said.

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield, who is over the city’s public works department, which includes the animal shelter, said he was unaware of the meeting, but will attend “to listen to the public and get their input.

“I think the public has involved itself to the point where they want to know where we are at the present time (with the shelter) and where we expect to be in the very near future, and I do think they need to know that,” he said.

Mayfield said he planned to meet with Flaggs about several issues involving animal control.

“One is whether we’re going to build a facility or not; that’s the No. 1 issue that’s pressing, and then whether we’re going to do something with the county. I don’t know what that conversation might end up, but that’s one of the options we might look at,” he said.

If the city moves ahead with building a shelter, he said, the next question would involve where, and whether to use city property or buy property to build it.

“We have a lot to cover to get where we need to be,” he said. “I think the board is right at the door of making a move as far as animal control is concerned. I just don’t know at this time what that move might be.”

At Monday’s board meeting, Flaggs indicated he opposed building a new shelter and personally favored forming some agreement with the Vicksburg-Warren Humane Society.

He called spending $1 million on an animal shelter absurd, pointing out the animal control budget is $247,368. He called the proposed shelter an “animal hospital.”

“They’re (animal control) talking about buying land (for the shelter); the most reasonable land, I’m told, costs $80,000, another piece costs $240,000,” he said, adding that even if it were built on city property the shelter would be expensive.

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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