Airport improvements being conducted

By PAT BROWN,
Magee Airport manager Ashley Steele has reported to the Magee Board of Aldermen that many of the issues cited have been corrected following last month’s board meeting.  
Steele told the board that the fuel system for the airport had been down for a month but was back operational as of this week.  The repair required was an O ring.  Contaminants in the fuel filter were discussed, and Steele told the board that according to the Cobb Environmental technician, that condition is expected.  
She said the technician said the filter was fine despite the fact that it not had been changed and based on the amount of fuel pumped through the filter.  Steele told the board they would now be changed annually and a service log system would be implemented.  
Alderman Whitney Baker asked Steele about other issues that had been brought to the attention of the board.  Steele said, “ I have done what I thought was right and I am willing to do what is needed.”  
When asked about fuel costs she said that a service calls on the airport, and she thought they were updating her cost.  She has since found out that was not correct and is posting current fuel pricing on the internet.  She explained that her fuel cost was higher than others because she was limited to 1,000 gallon purchases, sometimes 1,500, but that she had to pay transportation costs because she was not getting a full load.  She said this added about a $1 per gallon to the fuel price.  
Regarding the jet fuel pump she said it would require a environmental inspection before it could be brought on line and there was no call for jet fuel.  
Steele said, “12 years ago I was given a set of keys and told have fun.”  She was implying she was given no instructions in regard to operations of the airport.
Steele was asked if she had attended any training for operations of the airport and she said she was told there was no money available for the training. 
Dale Berry told the board he was forming an advisory committee with local pilots and would make recommendations to the board.    
Berry asked Steele why she took a key to the airport away from a city employee.  She reported someone had been going through her office and she felt it was the thing to do. 
Ed Dido the engineering consultant with the airport told the board they had until November 1 to file a pre-application to make additional improvements at the airport.  There are line of site issues that need to be addressed and if they are not the length of the existing airport could be shortened by the Federal Aviation Administration. 
  There is a $1 million grant at state which the feds will pay $950,000.  In addition to correcting the line of sight issue it would cover resurfacing the runway and remarking the runway.  Dido told the board the state also has funding which could result in only costing the city $10,000 to qualify for the $1 million.    
Dido told the board there is training available through the Mississippi Municipal Airport Association.  
The board had their annual audit review with their accounting firm, Herzog CPA.  The only major discrepancy found was regarding the accounting process for fixed assets.  This had to do with a physical inventory and tagging all of the assets of the county.  Otherwise the city is in very sound financial position.  
Mayor Berry reported he had attended a municipal workshop in Tunica.  He said their is an effort and legislation to increase sales tax to municipalities from 18 percent to 20 percent.  He said Senator Chris Caughman is sponsored this legislation but it has failed.  He said there is also an effort to place liens against state income tax refunds if individuals have unpaid tickets.  Berry  also told the board that a Gulf Coast legislator is pushing for a state lottery.  Berry did not indicate whether he supported that or not.  
Berry reported the highest turnout ever for the state tournaments hosted in Magee.  
Whitney Baker told the board that a workshop would be held on October 18 at PriorityOne Bank for the Keep Magee Beautiful program.  It will be held from nine p.m. until noon and the designees for the program will be trained for the program.  She stated that LauraLynn Barr has been working with Evelyn Copeland on the transition and  establishment of the Magee program.  
Berry reported he had talked with Mitzi Stubbs and that Magee could get up to $400,000 in grant funding for a senior retirement center.  Berry said his plans were to have it at the location of the YMCA.  Berry asked that senior citizens write letters of support of this project and be submitted to the city.  He said this would improve the city’s opportunity of getting grant funding.    
Berry reported that he had an individual he wanted the board to consider as a replacement for Lane Yearby who is assuming the role of city clerk.  Berry said he did not want action on the decision but  was asking that the board consider Kim Jackson.  Jackson served as clerk for justice court for 25 years according to Berry.  
The board approved the purchase of a new phone system for the city.  
Berry reported that the board should consider a camera system for the airport at an estimated cost of $1,400.  
Berry called on Police Chief Randy Crawford to report the need of a work session to discuss the need for an additional position of jailor/dispatcher.  Berry told the board they would need to sharpen their pencil to find funding in the new budget.  Crawford said this was needed because if one dispatcher had to go to the bathroom there would still be one person on duty at all times.  The special meeting is set for October 12 at 6:30 p.m.
The board voted and approved an invoice for $20,020 for repair to water well number five.  Nelvis Rankin reported this as being the first repair to the well since it was installed in 1989.  
Berry told the board they would also be expected to have a public defender within one month according to new law.  
Berry said the city would be hosting the Magee Show Choir at 10;30 on Crazy Day at the Ural Everett Park.  In addition they city would honor the 1967 Basketball Team and the Seven Year-old Champs from this year’s World’s Series.  
The city is asking that Halloween and Trick of Treat to be observed on Saturday, October 28 after Treat Street and be complete by 9 p.m. 
Berry suggested that the board consider the following but was not asking for action.  He said these “meals on wheels” venders were given advantage over local restaurants and the city should consider increasing the vendor cost substantially.  
He suggested the city should reconsider building codes on building over 25 years old.  He said he had attended the Hollywood restaurant in Tunica and the ambience was really attractive and maybe this should be considered in Magee.
He suggested the board consider increasing water rates.  He said that ten cents a day would allow for a $60,000 increase.  He said the rates had not increased since 2012.  He said individual rates are $28.85 per month and business is $50 per month.  
The board approved a bill for $18,300 for service to the fire department ladder truck.