City of Vicksburg announces plan to issue $11 million in G.O. bonds

Published 9:23 am Friday, August 27, 2021

City of Vicksburg officials plan to issue $11 million in general obligation bonds and pay them off using a portion of special sales tax diversion money the city receives from the state.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday approved a resolution to issue the bonds to pay for capital improvement projects in the city. The bonds will be paid off over 10 years using money from sales tax collected on Internet sales and diverted to cities and counties for capital improvements. The city receives the diversion funds twice a year.

The bill authorizing the sales tax diversions was approved by the Legislature at an August 2018 special session. The city began receiving its share of diversion funds during the 2020 fiscal year when it received $208,596.77. It has received $797,480.23 so far for fiscal 2021.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said using a portion of the diversion funds to pay off the bonds would allow the city to use some of the remaining money for possible future projects.

The bond issue is subject to a public referendum if 10 percent or 1,500 qualified city voters file a written protest with the city clerk on or before 10 a.m. on Sept. 24, which is the day the board will issue the bonds.

Flaggs said borrowing the money would affect the city’s debt cap, which is set by the state constitution.

He said after the meeting the board has not determined which projects will be addressed using the money.

“We’re limited in what we can do,” he said. “There are a couple of projects we can consider — paving, the (Hatcher Bayou) bridge, and then we can consider work on the water treatment plant.”

The board has discussed paving more streets in the city and Flaggs has asked Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Alex Monsour to prepare a list of streets for paving in their wards under an estimated $4 million paving project.

The board is seeking money from the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s State Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund for improvements to the bridge on Fisher Ferry Road that is north of the entrance to the Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi sports complex.

The amount of money the board will receive for the work has not been determined pending recommendations by Stantec, which the board hired at a cost not to exceed $7,500 to evaluate the bridge’s problems.

City Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman said there is an erosion problem on the bank of the bayou downstream from the bridge behind a house. Structurally, he said, the bridge is fine but it isn’t big enough to handle the car and foot traffic caused in part by the sports complex.

The board has in the past considered projects to improve the 50-year-old water treatment plant on Haining Road.

A report presented in July by Houston, Texas-based Trilogy Engineering, which was hired by the board to evaluate the city’s water system, highlighted several issues and recommended upgrades to the system and the water treatment plant, including improvements in the plant’s systems and a geographic information system to monitor waterlines.

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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