With much fanfare and the cameras rolling, Clarksdale signed on the dotted line for a $7.4 million check to pay for infrastructure projects Monday.
The Mayor and Board of Commissioners will now allocated the money to begin construction on five and possibly six big street, drainage and flooding projects around the city.
“The outstandingly low interest rate we received on the bonds was a testament to the city’s strong financial standing as well as the work of our excellent team, including Butler Snow LLP and Government Consultants, Inc.” said Mayor Chuck Espy. Espy also thanked the work of City Clerk Cathy Clark, Board Attorney Melvin Miller and each commissioner by name.
The 20-year bonds were sold publicly by Crews and Associates, Inc., of Little Rock, Arkansas for a rock bottom interest rate of 2.12-percent. The city initially saw a 4-percent rate and has saved $1.7 million over the life of the loan by signing at this time.
Engineer Terry Smith of Smith and Weiland, said work on projects will begin almost immediately and follow a timeline.
The city put the bond issue before voters last fall.
The city had prioritized five projects totaling $8.25 million. However, after allowing for $3 million in funding from the Mississippi Department of Transportation and a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, the city’s share totaled $4.91 million. That number has fallen as the city has done some of the work itself.
Clarksdale’s 2019 bond referendum projects included:
1. Replace Second Street Bridge: $3,800,000.
2. Sasse Street drainage: $800,000.
3. Pearson Street levee: $2,025,000
4. Sidewalks/Lighting: $1.1 million.
5. Street rehabilitation: $500,000.
6. Friars Point Road: $3,600,000.
Projects are listed by priority and Friars Point would be added if funds become available through possible grants. The city has also discussed taking the Second Street Bridge off if the county can get it on the state’s bridge replacement list.
On Thursday, the Clarksdale Quality of Life Commission sold its $4,740,000 in tax-exempt Urban Renewal Revenue Bonds, to raise funds for the city’s Urban Renewal Project, to address street and road improvements in addition to flooding remediation listed above.
Clarksdale Chamber Executive Jon Levingston said this was economic development work and would bring business and jobs to the community and protect the tax base and homeowners.
“Many communities throughout rural America face difficult infrastructure challenges,” said Espy. “To successfully address them, local leadership must identify the problems, determine the cost to successfully address them, and go after the funding necessary to make the improvements.”
The funds will be deposited in First National Bank Clarksdale on Friday.
In other business:
• The board heard reports from Ward 2 Commissioner Ken Murphey and Ward 4 Commissioner Ed Seals about clubs opening and groups of people gathering in defiance of the city’s COVID-19 order.
Murphey said a club in downtown Clarksdale was open and playing loud music over the weekend and Seals said a building was rented and more than 150 people gathered in the Brickyard neighborhood.
The city acknowledged the Governor’s Executive Order 1511 and voted on the following:
- Indoor Group Gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 participants - does not apply to religious entities, students in classrooms or gatherings in facilities governed by other capacity limitations; since the City Auditorium accommodates a very large capacity and can sufficiently spread out board meetings can be conducted
- Outdoor Group Gatherings limited to a maximum of 20 participants - does not apply to religious entities or gatherings governed by other capacity limitations
- Sale of alcohol in bars to only seated patrons; must limit the number of customers to 50% of maximum capacity and updating floor plans to ensure at least six feet of separation and limits party sizes to a maximum of six customers per table
- Restaurants and bars shall not sell alcohol between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Timeline: Remains in effect until 8:00 a.m. Monday, August 3rd
- Previous City Orders: Extends the city’s emergency orders to expire on Monday, August 10th (9th Order)
• Voted to pay the following Miscellaneous Claims:
Lillie Houston, $2,250.00
Students – Walton fund, $11,832.00
Millicent Dixon, $2,550.00
Smith & Weiland, $20,025.00
City VISA card, $756.29
Amanda Dear Jones, $1000.00
Airport Board, $2,291.00
Chamber of Commerce, $4,166.67
Park Commission, $11,166.67
Speech & Hearing, $1,333.33
Housing Authority, $1,250.00
SLA Jones, $1,250.00
Board of Supervisors, $2,776.07
• Contracted four dump trucks from Jeff Young to assist in the demolition of homes. The plan is to have the city demolish houses; Young haul the debris off; and the city grade and smooth the lot. A lien is then placed on the property to pay for the city’s cost.
• Approved the request from John Sherman for pay in the amount of $300 for substitution Prosecutor; reduce the pay of Bill Gresham for the one week in the amount of $300
• Voted to advertise for bids for concrete services in the City
• Were informed by the City Clerk that budget preparation is underway and details were included in commissioner’s meeting packet.
• Voted to recess until noon Aug. 6.