Board approves pay increase for mayor, aldermen

By NIKKI SMITH,

The City of Petal Board of Aldermen voted to adopt an ordinance increasing the annual pay for the aldermen and Mayor Hal Marx at a regular meeting of the board on Tuesday. The ordinance will raise their salaries from $10,000 to $12,000 and $56,000 to $60,000, respectively.

“I honestly believe they’re worth a lot more,” said Marx when addressing Petal residents about the salary increase. “They all work full-time jobs in addition to this, and I can tell you they don’t do it for the money. They are available to residents every day, nights, weekends. I think they deserve that.”

As the city continues to grow, Marx said the aldermen spend increasing amount of time on city business.

“They are always available to the public, and they take a lot of time away from their families and their other jobs,” he said. “I think we have a great group of aldermen who are doing a wonderful job for our city. Not many people would want to take on the headaches that come from public service for the amount of money they receive."

Marx said the last time the aldermen saw an increase in pay was in 2006. The mayor’s pay was last increased in 2012. He said this  budget money was allotted for city employees and city department heads to receive a raise.

“The board felt that there should be some room between the department heads' salaries and the salary of the mayor,” he said. “This will be the only time in the next four years that the mayor's pay will be increased, but I hope we are able to give several more raises for our employees and department heads in that time."

The board also addressed concerns about increases in residents’ water and sewer bills.

The increase was voted on during an open, regular meeting of the board. However, residents voiced concerns about the fact that the increase was not announced on their bill beforehand. Marx addressed those complaints by saying that the increase in water and sewer was voted on in an open meeting, which was recorded via Facebook live, posted online and published in local newspapers.

“As citizens, it is your job to stay informed,” he said. “I don’t know what else we could have done to tell you.”

He added that one way Petal residents can stay informed about the goings on in the city is to download the city’s new app. It is free to download and opens up a two-way communication between residents and city workers and officials.

Marx said 24 reports have already been submitted through the app to alert city workers of issues that needed to be addressed since the app launched.

"We have already had a good response from the public with our city app,” he said. “It allows for two-way communication between the city and our citizens, as well as instant response for complaints and issues such as potholes, water leaks (and more)."

The app is now available to download through SeeClickFix. Those who wish to get it simply need to go to their phone’s app store, download SeeClickFix to the phone and put in the zip code.

Once those steps are complete, users will be directed to the City of Petal's page. From there, residents can easily report water leaks, potholes, animal control issues or other problems that need to be addressed.

Each request for service will go to the appropriate department and a worker order will be assigned. Once the work order has been completed, the citizen will receive confirmation that the problem has been fixed.

City workers will keep users updated on the progress of the issue and let them know when it has been corrected.

"So far, we have had a response time of just over one day on average to complete the work order and fix the issue as reported,” Marx said. “As the volume of requests increases, it might take a little longer to get them resolved, but we aim to keep our response time within three to four days."

Also, users will receive updates and special alerts from the city, such as boil water notices, emergency information and notifications of special events happening in Petal.

Marx also announced that he and the Board of Aldermen will host a town hall meeting on the city's Comprehensive Plan on Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Petal Civic Center.

The public is invited to attend and provide input and voice concerns.

This plan will serve as a blueprint for growth and improving city services for future city administrations over the next 15 to 20 years. Everyone is invited to attend whether they live within the city limits or not.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a request to adopt a proclamation setting the following state holidays: Thanksgiving, Nov. 23-24; Christmas, Dec. 25-26; and New Year’s, Jan. 1, 2018;

• Approved a request to adopt a resolution accepting the lease purchase agreement for police vehicles and equipment with Regions Bank;

• Denied a request accepting the planning commission’s recommendation to grant variances for property located at Jones St. and Harvey Ave. to allow the construction of two single family homes at 1,205 square feet heated and 1,257 square feet heated;

• Approved a request to place Scott Craft on reserve status and hire to fill the vacancy in his absence;

• Approved a request to transfer two John Deere Gators from the Recreation Department to the Street Department;

• Approved a request to appoint Mark Graham to the Southeast Mississippi Community Investment Corporation Board of Directors for a three-year term beginning in January 2018;

• Approved a request to acknowledge receipt of letter from Comcast requesting the City to begin informal negotiations on new cable franchise agreement;

• Approved a request to advertise with Kiwanis Club for Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Nov. 14 at a cost of $100;

• Approved the settlement on Ford Crown Vic from Glatfelter Claims Management for a total of $3,186;

• Approved a request to dispose of one HP Officejet Pro in the Judicial Department;

• Accepted the Planning Commission recommendation to grant a zoning change for property located at 241 N. Main St. and 107 E. 2nd Ave. from residential to commercial;

• Approved a request to set a hearing date of Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. for properties located at 308 Cassil St. and 14 Pirates Cove;

• Approved a request to advertise for and make final payment to Diamond Enterprise, Inc., in the amount of $17,997.90 for the Standpipe Repairs;

• Approved a request for final payment to Walker Construction, LLC, in the amount of $10,858.81 for the River Park Walking Trail;

• Approved a request to accept specifications and advertise for bids on trucks for the Public Works Department;

• Accepted the proofs of publication;

• Approved a contract with Hancock Pest Control for termite treatment at Athletic Office at a cost of $675 with an annual renewal of $140.19;

• Approved a request to approve the docket of claims for October;

• Approved a request to authorize adjustment to water services billed to 143 Lynn Ray Rd. in the amount of $82.67 due to a leak;

• Approved a request to authorize Melissa Martin and Lynn Campfield to attend City Clerk update in Jackson Dec. 13-15 at a total cost of $514 plus mileage each;

• Approved a request to adopt orders hiring James Givens as a probationary firefighter at a rate of $10 per hour and Tamario Weathersby as a recruit firefighter at a rate of $8.90 per hour;

• Approved a request to adopt an order promoting Lee Gilliland to third class firefighter at a rate of $10.95 per hour.