November 5th City Council Meeting
- Resolution requesting the Department of Justice open an investigation into the Christian Andreacchio case.
- Over the course of the past few months, the City Council has heard from the Andreacchio family, as well as a number of supporters, regarding the Meridian Police Department’s handling of the investigation into the death of Christian Andreacchio.
- At our last Council Meeting in October, the council was asked to vote on a resolution requesting that the Department of Justice investigate MPD’s handling of this case. Following usual procedure, we waited until the November 5th meeting before voting in order to give the city attorney time to review and have a resolution in writing for us to vote on.
- The council voted 4–1, passing the resolution asking the DOJ to investigate the handling of the Andreacchio case. The stated reason for the lone “no” vote dealt with concerns of violating the Hatch Act, citing the optics of such a vote on an Election Day. It’s important to note that the City Council always meets on the first Tuesday of the month, and that Election Day is always held on the first Tuesday in November.
2. Order Authorizing acceptance of engagement letter from BKD, LLP to prepare the City’s FY’ 2019 audit.
- For over 10 years the city of Meridian has had the same firm responsible for our annual audit. In recent years, there have been oversights that I believe could have been caught had fresher eyes been involved in the auditing process.
- BKD interviewed for the job of performing our annual audit, with the selection committee consisting of Councilwoman Houston, a member of the administration, and myself. I was very impressed with their presentation and believe that they will be able to provide the city with an informative and instructive audit that will help us moving forward.
- The council tabled the vote, due to not yet receiving an engagement letter from BKD. We expect to be able to vote at the November 19th council meeting.
3. Order Authorizing lease agreement with Ben Nelson Golf & Outdoor for golf carts.
- This is a 48 month lease agreement for 15 golf carts for the Lakeview golf course. Following a 5–0 vote, we are now paying half the price we previously were for golf carts. This is part of the city’s overall efforts and committment to keeping Lakeview golf course open while we explore long term options.
4. Orders Authorizing Engineering Services.
- The council was going to consider 3 separate contracts for engineering services, but these items were removed from the agenda pending further review/revisions. We are expected to discuss these multi-million dollar contracts at next Tuesday’s work session.
5. Order authorizing agreement with Mississippi Power Co. for pad-mounted electrical box on city right-of-way.
- In preparation for the opening of the Threefoot Mariott, it’s necessary that Mississippi Power has an electrical box near the Threefoot building. The issue that I saw, and ultimately why I voted against this, is that the location of the box will be right near the front door of the Threefoot building. This electrical box will be roughly the size of a dumpster. City Administration claims that they will be able to utilize some sort of “silk screen” to “beautify” the monstrosity, but it is unclear what that will look like or who will be responsible for it. There were likely other locations that this box could have been placed at, and so for that reason I advised tabling this issue until all parties involved had an opportunity to discuss at the next work session. This was ultimately approved by a 4–1 vote.
6. Resolution authorizing sale of surplus property (Old Police Station) & authorizing deed execution.
- Despite the average of three appraisals being around $100,000, an offer was made to the council to purchase the Old Police Station for $10,000. The council voted to decline this offer.
7. Tru Hotel Tax Abatement
- A former city official promised the Tru Hotel owner a 100% tax break prior to construction. The hotel has already been constructed and is open for business, and the owner has continued seeking the tax break as promised. The council voted 4–1 to grant a 50% tax break to the Tru Hotel. I voted against this because we cannot continue giving away much needed tax dollars to property owners who can afford to pay, while each year we discuss shifting the burden more and more on the average homeowner. It was noted that this would be the last hotel that we anticipate giving a tax break to.
8. Citizen’s Comments
- The council heard from a local property owner who believes he has been wrongly left with a water bill for water that was stolen while his property was vacant. The council has heard multiple issues like this and we are committed to searching for a solution. This may mean revising the language in our ordinances dealing with water billing. We are expected to discuss this issue further at the next work session.
The Council meeting concluded with a series of Executive Sessions concerning Economic Development and Personnel Performance.
There is a work session scheduled for next Tuesday, November 12th, at 9am on the third floor of City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.