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City stalls on funding

Features Editor

For the second time in a month, the Brundidge City Council put off taking action on a request by the Pike County Chamber of Commerce to up its annual funding to the chamber in order to help meet the marketing needs of the chamber.

Mayor Jimmy Ramage said city officials were not able to meet with chamber representatives to discuss details of the request prior to the council Tuesday, so the request will be carried over to the June 18 meeting.

Ramage said an overview of the chamber’s plans have been presented to the council but there are questions that need to be answered about the details of the needs and future plans of the chamber.

At its May 21 meeting, the council, citing the need for more time to study the request,

failed to act on a recommendation by the mayor to temporarily increase funding to the chamber from $500 a month to $1,166 from June 2002 until October 2002.

Pike County Chamber of Commerce Marsha Gaylard addressed the Brundidge City Council on May 7 and requested that the city increase its annual funding from $10,000 to $20,000. However, Ramage said the council’s current funding to the chamber is $6,000 annually.

Increase requests were also made to the City of Troy, the Pike County Commission and the Alabama Gas District. The towns of Banks and Goshen were also asked to assisting with the marketing needs of the chamber.

The City of Troy voted to temporarily increase its funding from June until October and the town of Goshen gave the $1,000 that was requested. The other entities have not made commitments.

The Brundidge Historical Society will also be waiting in the wings for a response from the Brundidge City Council. The council took no action on

the historical society’s request to lease the old city hall building for use as a community theater.

Lawrence Bowden, a member of the historical society, addressed the council, asking that the historical society be allowed to lease the vacant building.

The historical society presented a folklife play, titled "Come Home, It’s Suppertime" in the building in April and Bowden said the group needs a permanent theater for future performances.

"We need to come to some kind of understanding with the city about the future of community theater in Brundidge," Bowden said. "Many communities all over have facilities for the fine arts.

With the play and all of the good things that are happening in our town, I believe the city is in a position to support the fine arts in our community."

Ramage was positive in his remarks, saying he believes everyone on the council wants to see community theater continue in Brundidge.

"This is something good and we don’t want to let it get away," he said.

However, Council member Isabell Boyd said she has a problem with letting one group have control of the building.

"It belongs to all the people of Brundidge," she said.

In other business, the council:

· Approved the purchase of a software program for city hall from Main Street Software of Maryland at a cost of $35,000.

· Approved short-term financing with Colonial Bank for $1,450,000 at 3.5 percent. The council elected to go with short-term financing rather than a bond issue, which would take 20 years or more to pay off. The landfill is already paying dividends for the city and, as soon as Wal-Mart comes on line, the city will be able to pay off the short-term loan in about five years. No penalty fee is charged for early payoff on a short-term loan as it is with a bond issue.

· Passed a resolution to acquire the right-of-way for a road leading to the Wal-Mart property on Sarah Lott Blvd. and for utilities to the property. The two pieces of property are a .35 acre parcel and a .25 acre parcel.

· Passed a resolution for the acquisition of seven parcels of land which are required to build an industrial access road to the new 70-acre industrial park where construction is under way on the

Southern Classic Foods Group facility.

· Gave authority to the city manager to take appropriate action for the purchase or condemnation of property necessary to complete an access road project in the industrial park area. The city and an owner of property in the area have been unable to come to an agreement on the value of his property. Unless an agreement can be negotiated in a timely manner, the city will acquire the property in accordance with Alabama law.

· Transferred 70 acres on the town’s north side to the Brundidge Industrial Development Board, with the exception of the property needed for the street, water and sewer lines and the sewer pumping station. The city cannot enter into a contract with a private business, but an industrial development board can. The Brundidge ID board will enter into a lease-purchase agreement with Southern Classic Foods Group

and make all of the arrangements with the tenant.

· Declared a 20×30-foot piece of property surplus in order to make it available for use as phone and fiber optics facility for the Wal-Mart project.

· Held a first-reading of a utility ordinance that will increase rates for heavy users for the first time since 1987. The city does not have a rate structure that includes excessive use customers. The projected growth of the city could include customers who use a million gallons or more a month. The city council does not want to be stuck with a rate that won’t pay off.

· Heard a progress report on the Wal-Mart distribution center project from City Manager Britt Thomas. Thomas said about 1,000 construction workers are expected to be on-site in the next several months. Building A on the property is expected to be ready for use as office space in August.