Flaggs seeks public’s opinion to fund Vicksburg animal shelter

Published 4:09 pm Monday, October 3, 2022

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen received bids to build the city’s proposed new animal shelter Monday morning; both were over the project’s estimated $1.67 million budget.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is seeking the public’s help to determine how to pay for it.

Flaggs on Monday afternoon announced a public “question-and-answer” session at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the boardroom at the Robert M. Walker Building, 1415 Walnut St., to get opinions on financing options.

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Residents with questions can attend the session or participate by calling the city’s conference number at 601-801-3434, or through Facebook Messenger on the city’s Facebook page.

“I’m going to the people to determine what they want me to do on Wednesday night,” Flaggs said. “What I want to do is see whether or not they want to go forward; I promised I’d do it. I don’t back up.”

The board Monday morning received two bids for the project with J.E. Stevens Construction Group of Flowood submitting a $1.795 million base bid and Fordice Construction of Vicksburg giving a $1.95 million base bid.

When the base bids are combined with the bids for the four proposed alternates or extra features, Stevens’ total bid was about $1.958 million, while the total Fordice bid came in at about $2.187 million.

Presently, Flaggs said, there are several funding options for the shelter, including increasing the city’s millage or a financing plan. He declined to discuss the funding plan, adding, “I think I’ve got a way of funding without raising taxes. I would love to do that but if taxes are an option, we’ll open the door up.

He said the board can raise the millage rate by 10 percent without an election.

A third option, he said, is using the city’s $ 2 million reserve fund. The board can also do nothing, he added.

Or, he said, “I could go to the Legislature and ask the Legislature to give me a creative way of funding. I’ve got some options, but I want the people to tell me Wednesday which direction they want me to go and then we’ll do it.”

The board earlier this year took $1 million of the city’s $3 million reserve fund to help acquire land for the proposed Port of Vicksburg Expansion, and more land acquisition is expected. Flaggs also promised employee pay raises after the first six months of the fiscal year. The city also has loan and bond payments involving other projects that must be paid.

Flaggs indicated he intends to fund the raises and land acquisitions.

“I’m not going to put them in jeopardy,” he said. “I believe I can find it (the money) without raising taxes.

“It’s going to take some gutsy thinking. I promised them I’d build it and my word is my bond; I’m not going back on it.”

 

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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