Booneville leaders are taking steps to complete the change out of all water and gas meters in the city with a goal of completing the project by the end of the year or early next year.

The board also gave final approval this week to a pair of ordinance changes that will limit animals in park play areas and allow for the sale of individual containers of beer.

Aldermen voted Tuesday to advertise for bids on changing out all water meters in the city using federal COVID-19 relief funds allocated for infrastructure improvements. The city will also seek bids for changing out gas meters, though that funding cannot come from the COVID funds and the city will be seeking a grant to offset that cost.

Mayor Chris Lindley noted the idea of changing all meters in the city to AMR (automated meter reading) meters goes back at least 10 years and the city is now faced with a deadline to get them changed as the system currently used won’t be supported after the end of the year and if any of the equipment currently used develops a problem beyond that point they will not be able to get it fixed.

The board gave final approval Tuesday to two ordinance amendments. The city’s alcohol ordinance will be amended to allow for the sale of individual beers with a volume of 12 ounces or larger for off-premises consumption. The current ordinance prohibits the sale of beer in a quantity less than a six-pack or a quart bottle.

The amendment to the animal control ordinance will prohibit animals in play areas, including the splash pads and playgrounds, at the city’s parks.

Lindley has said they have had problems with animals in these areas and this will allow them to keep the spaces open and safe for children. Leashed animals will continue to be allowed in all other areas of the parks, including the walking trails.

The changes will take effect 30 days after they are published in the newspaper’s legal section which should happen next week.

The board also heard Tuesday from George E Allen Library Librarian Sandy Donahue about several issues with the library property. She thanked the board for their support and the support of the community through the pandemic and said they are fully open and are beginning to get back to pre-pandemic usage levels.

Donahue received approval for a quote to replace the worn carpet in the library’s main meeting room with laminate flooring. She said the parking lot is in need of repair and Lindley said they will soon be meeting with a paving contractor to begin the process of getting those repairs done.

She also asked for help in updating the library’s restroom facilities. The board said the city’s public property department will look at the bathrooms and take care of fixing and replacing fixtures as needed.

The board heard concerns from several citizens including Peggy Wroten who asked them to consider paving in the Stanley Street/Comer Drive area and to take steps to deal with overgrown yards, trash and junk in the area. Lindley said the area will be included in the next round of paving to be done in the city and city building inspector Charles Sanders is already working on contacting property owners there and in other areas of the city who are violating rules for property upkeep, but noted the legal process to force compliance does take time.

Barry Brumfield, who owns a vacant property on Gaston Road, disputed the requirement to pay a minimum utility charge at the home when no utilities are being used. He was told city policy requires a minimum monthly charge for water, sewer, and garbage as long as the meters remain installed and his only option would be to have the service disconnected if he didn’t want to receive a bill. Brumfield argued it was unfair to be billed when, while the property is connected, the service is not being used. The board said city policy requires a minimum bill as long as a meter is connected and service turned on at a property and there was no allowance for an exemption.

Theodore Williams addressed the board regarding the need to resurface Westover Heights. Lindley said that area will also be included in the next phase of paving using bond issue money once the current phase is completed.

In other business, the board:

Approved seeking quotes at the state contract price for two meter reader trucks and a 3/4 ton truck in the gas department.

Approved the purchase of four statewide MS WIN radios for the gas department.

Approved the promotion of Thomas Mynatt and Katherine Lambert to the rank of patrol sergeant in the police department and the hiring of Scott Caldwell as a full-time police officer.

Approved posting to hire a bushhog operator in the street department.

Approved the creation of a 3-way stop at Hatchie Street and Moore Street.

Approved posting to hire a clerk in the gas department office and a line locator in the gas and water department.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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