Butler Snow @ Laurel City Council

J. Troy Johnston, an attorney with the law firm of Butler Snow LLP, Ridgeland, Mississippi, talks to city of Laurel officials about issuing $5 million in bonds for water and sewer during the Laurel City Council meeting at Laurel City Hall. The law firm is serving as the city’s bond counsel. Photo/Eloria Newell James

Officials with the city of Laurel are making preparations to issue up to $5 million in revenue bonds for its water and sewer.

Back in June city leaders declared the intention of the city to issue combined Water and Sewer System Revenue Bonds, Series 2020, in a total amount of not to exceed $5 million for the purpose of improving, repairing, and extending the combined water and sewer system of the city. That intention was published, as required by law, and no sufficient protest against the issuance of the bonds described in said resolution was filed by the qualified electors of the city.

Because of no protest, the process to issue the bonds was allowed to continue.

The mayor and council members then declared the city’s intention to issue said bonds, and fixed June 2, 2020, as the date on which it proposed to direct the issuance of said bonds. Any protests against that action was required to be filed on or before 10:00 a.m. on May 22, 2020.”

The city council and officials then met last Tuesday and discussed the issuing of the bonds, before the council approved the resolution to issue the bonds with a 7-0 vote.

The city has employed the law firm of Butler Snow LLP, Ridgeland, Mississippi, as bond counsel, and the city has retained Government Consultants, Inc., of Madison, as municipal advisor.

The council also authorized them to prepare the necessary resolutions and offering documents for the subsequent sale and issuance of the bonds, subject to the approval of the governing body of the city.

Mayor Johnny Magee said the council’s vote at last Tuesday’s meeting was the last step needed before the bonds could be put out for sale. A representative of Butler Snow Law Firm also discussed the bonds with the council during this week’s meeting and emphasized that the bonds were not tax generated.

“The council resolution authorizes the issuance and sell of the bonds,” J. Troy Johnston with Butler Snow told the council. “They are tax-exempt bonds. They are secured by the revenue from the water and sewer system.”

Johnston said the group anticipates opening bids for the bonds by July 21, which is the next council meeting.

City officials said the issuance of the $5 million in bonds should allow the city to do a large amount of water and sewer work. They also noted the need for these projects is pressing in order for the city to provide quality service to citizens.

“These bonds will help us do some needed repairs,” Mayor Johnny Magee said.

Thaxton said he is pleased that the city will be able to make major improvements to its water and sewer systems.

Also Tuesday in a separate matter, the council voted to make some personnel changes.

Based on the administration’s recommendation, the council in June approved making some changes in the Public Works and Parks/Recreation departments regarding equipment inventory and employees.

Then this week the administration recommended that the council approve revisions to the city’s organizational chart regarding equipment operator positions in the Parks and Recreation Department.

The council was asked to approve an order revising the Recreation Maintenance Division of the Parks & Recreation Department immediately to make changes to one position.

They voted 7-0 to allow one Recreation Maintenance Equipment Operator I position at $10.72 per hour, $22,298.64 annually, Grade 4 Step 1, be changed to Recreation Maintenance Equipment Operator II Position at $12.36 per hour, $25,705.68 annually, Grade 7 Step 1.

This matter comes after some recent changes in the Public Works and Parks/Recreation departments regarding equipment inventory and employees.

Last month, the council approved the exchange of certain employee positions between the Public Works and Parks/Recreation departments and the transfer of equipment and budgets from the Public Works Department to the Parks and Recreation Department.

According to city documents, “the administration has determined that the exchange and transfer of certain employees’ positions, equipment and budgets between the Public Works Department and the Parks/Recreation Department will allow for the most efficient process of cleaning state-owned, city-owned and council-approved lots in the city and that the transfer is in the best interest of the city.”

The council also approved several other matters this week, including adopting an order requesting approval to advertise for bids for a metal building for Plan #1 due to the tornado damage on December 16, 2019 and another order requesting approval to advertise for bids for a roof replacement for Plant #1 due to the tornado damage on December 16, 2019.

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