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Selectmen Hear Sewer Complaint, Approve Interlocal Agreement with County

At their July 10 meeting, the West Point Board of Selectmen moved quickly through a sparse agenda. They discussed financing for new water and light meters, heard a complaint from a citizen and approved an interlocal agreement with Clay County regarding their partnership with the Link.

All told, the meeting lasted 30 minutes. Ward 2 Selectman Homer Cannon and Ward 5 Selectman Jasper Pittman were not present.

The city is working with Siemens to upgrade its water and electric meters. Tuesday night Mayor Scott Ross and City Administrator Randy Jones explained that the city had found a way to fund the upgrades – which have an estimated cost of $5.8 million – without issuing bonds. [The city has been slowly moving toward the replacement since October 2011, when Siemens submitted the lone proposal for the project. The new meters will not only be more accurate, but can be monitored remotely, saving countless man-hours of labor. – Brian Jones] “We placed a request for proposals with several financial institutions,” Jones said, “and we received two responses. First Security from Arkansas put in a proposal for 15 years at 4.04 percent. Then Bancorp South was the other proposal, and they offered the same amount at 3.07 percent. Bancorp South’s price will make a difference of several hundred thousand dollars over the course of the loan.”
The board unanimously approved the loan terms.

Johnny Gilliland appeared to ask the board for compensation after a sewer backup caused damage to his property.
“I’m a lifelong resident of West Point, except for my college days,” Gilliland said. “We’re talking about the house I grew up in. I inherited it after my mother’s death. Back in October, I got a phone call from the guys who were working in the yard. They said there were water issues in the back yard. When I got there the backyard was covered with water and sewerage. I went in the house, and if you look at the pictures you’ll see what I’m talking about. The bathrooms were totally overflowed with sewerage. It got in the hallways, in both bedrooms, the living room. I called [CAO Randy Jones], and he suggested I call [Water Superintendent Dwight Prisock], I called him and he came over and looked at it.
“Nobody was living in the house, the only place the water could have come from was the city sewer system,” he continued. “We went over and looked at a manhole, we looked inside and Dwight said that was the problem right there, that the sewerage was too high. I asked him whose responsibility it was, and he said it was the city’s and he would take care of it. He said they could call the insurance agency and he would explain what happened. In the meantime he got the house cleaned up. A janitorial service came over, and I would say they did about an eight out of 10 job.
“We waited for a call from the insurance company, and a couple of weeks later the insurance company said they would not pay a claim,” Gilliland said. “They said the sand caved in in the sewer system, and it was not their fault and they wouldn’t pay for it. I kept talking to people in the city of West Point, and I went to my insurance company and talked to them at length. They said that because it wasn’t a disaster, that they wouldn’t pay it and they told me that I should pursue it through the city. I went to the mayor, and he said he would work with the insurance company.”
“We’re very frustrated,” Gilliland said. “I’d like to get this resolved. I feel like the city is responsible for paying for this. I’m glad that mother didn’t live to see this.”
“We did turn it in to our insurance company,” Ross confirmed. “We talked to them today, in fact, and we made it clear that we would like them to pay this claim. They originally took the position that we didn’t have any work going on in the area, we don’t have any fault, but none of us have really come up with any other explanation of what happened. There was no one living in the house, there was no work going on in the city. It seems to be an aberration, but obviously it did happen. The company is going to do another review with the understanding that we would like coverage on this claim.”
The board took no action.

The board approved an interlocal agreement with Clay County governing their relationship with the Link.
Earlier this year the city of West Point and Clay County agreed that their economic development interests would be handled by the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link. The interlocal agreement nails down exactly how the fruits of that partnership will be divided.
“Both the city and the county have already approved an agreement with the Link,” Ross said. “One of the things we discussed is that the city and county and funding this equally, so how would we handle projects going forward. If projects are located outside the city limits, I’ve always been pretty adamant that the city share equally with the county because we are funding this equally. If a project goes in outside the city limits and we are unable to annex that, then we will receive no benefit from the taxes. This agreement specifies a fifty-fifty split.”
The agreement was unanimously approved.

In other business, Ward 4 Selectmen Keith McBrayer pointed out that the city was ending FY12 with a surplus. “We just got an income statement from last year, and we’re showing a surplus of $429,985.”

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