Newsletter

It is my desire to keep you informed of current issues in our community and to provide you with information that will empower you and let your voice be heard. Please forward this to your friends and neighbors, then send me your feedback.

April 8, 2010


Sanitation
Our city's sanitation department is currently in transition from a manual to an automated collection method. As with most upgrades, this change brings forth some questions. For this reason, I wanted to provide you with some basic information about the automated system.

Automated sanitation is a term that refers to the use of a hydraulic arm to place material into the sanitation truck. All employees that currently provide this manual service have been offered positions in other divisions within the city. Through attrition, this will eliminate the need for 36 positions in sanitation, saving approximately $1 million annually.

With this new system, the city will provide each household with two containers, one color for garbage and another color for trash. These containers, just like your water meter, will have serial numbers, will be assigned to a specific address, and are the property of the City of Hattiesburg. The standard size of the container is 96 gallons; however you may select a smaller container if you so desire.

The current fleet of sanitation trucks is aging and costly to maintain, and will be replaced with an entirely new fleet. This will ensure that sanitation services are prompt and will not be impeded due to a lack of functioning equipment. The containers and the trucks will be paid from the reduced costs in manpower, and with the rising expense of providing benefits, will save taxpayers money.

As we make this transition, be assured that I am available to provide assistance or answer questions if needed.


Sidewalks
In your travels around the city, you will notice that not only are existing sidewalks being repaired, but also new ones are being built. After hearing from many of you about the need for more walkable neighborhoods, the City of Hattiesburg and its many partners have stepped up efforts to meet this need. I would like to personally thank our State Legislative delegation and the Forrest County Board of Supervisors for their assistance.

Another group that deserves a lot of credit is Pine Belt Pathways. Members of this organization have volunteered their time and talent to improve the quality of life in our community. To find out more please visit them @ http://pinebeltpathways.webs.com.

While the sidewalk improvements are a step in the right direction, they are long overdue and there is much more to be done. With the help of our partners, I will continue to work to upgrade our neighborhoods.
Thank you again for the honor of serving this great community, and equally important, for your help as Together We Build a Better Hattiesburg.

February 10, 2010

City Budget
As you are aware, the sales tax revenue for Hattiesburg has fallen short of projections. Even with a significant decrease budgeted for this year, we are seeing that revenue is less than anticipated. The City Council will revisit the budget in March. To ensure a more realistic number, I am encouraging the Council to further reduce the projected revenue even further. This is important to our community because spending decisions are made based on revenue, and as we all know, Hattiesburg--unlike the Federal Government-- DOES NOT spend more than it receives.

Please know that "the sky is not falling." Through responsible fiscal decisions, and improvements that will increase efficiency, our financial situation is very sound. Hattiesburg, just like its residents, is working through these tough times and preparing for brighter days ahead. The Council, of course, will continue to monitor our budget closely, and I plan to keep you updated through this newsletter.


Water Billing
In 2009, the City Council requested a report on the status of our water metering and water billing divisions. An independent company, Ameresco, completed this report with the following suggestions: 1) Approximately 12,000 of our 17,000 meters were over 10 years old and needed to be replaced, as a meter starts to lose its accuracy after 10 years, and 2) An Automated Meter Reading system (AMR) would reduce the number of re-reads and estimated reads that had become commonplace in this division. The total cost for these upgrades was 7 million dollars.

Through an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC), the Council approved these improvements. This ESPC is a type of guarantee that commits Ameresco to pay for the project, should the proposed upgrades not pay for themselves through added efficiency . As a proponent of a more efficient government, and a strong believer that a company should stand behind its product, I support this project.

However, as with any large scale improvement, implementation has proven to be challenging. Many residents have called me with concerns, and I have attempted to address each of these by reading meters myself, reviewing the billing system, and asking for adjustments when warranted. At a recent neighborhood meeting, staff members from the Water Billing Department suggested that residents contact the water billing office at 601.545.4534 with any concerns or questions. I would encourage you to call me at 601.297.7629 if, after speaking with water department representatives, you have unresolved issues.

I do believe that AMR is a very good system and another step toward improving service for you. If you need assistance during this transition, I would be delighted to help.
Thanks again for the honor of serving this great community and for your help as, Together We Can Build a Better Hattiesburg.


Issues
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Public Safety| Budget | Infrastructure| Homeless Coalition