Fayette council mulls investment in economic development

By Kim Thompson
Staff Writer

Meeting in regular session Tuesday Fayette city council members discussed whether to contribute toward a county-wide economic development effort.

Discussion of investment in Howard County Economic Development Council

Whether and how much to commit to Howard County Economic Development Council was discussed at length.

In a letter from HCEDC,  the city of Fayette is asked to consider contributing to the $80,000 membership fee of HCEDC joining MAEDC.

HCEDC members Richard Fowler, Marianne Inman, Mark Harbison and Richard Conrow wrote in the letter to the city of Fayette:

“The annual cost of Howard County’s membership in the MAEDC is $80,000…or approximately $8.16 per resident…. Initially a 3-year commitment is required with the expectation that these efforts would continue long after those first three years have passed. An equitable means of determining an appropriate contribution level is to ask each municipality and the county as a whole to allocate that $8.16 per resident to the effort.”

Marquise Francis commented that the city should do something towards economic development. “We’re not doing anything now.”

Wally Eaton said, “We didn’t get anything from the previous investment.”

Michael Pope, United Methodist Church Liaison at CMU, commented that 50 to 75 percent of CMU students need to work part-time. “We need jobs for CMU students.”

In answer to council questions, City Administrator Robin Triplett reported that the city has budgeted $5,000 a year to go toward economic development. In the past, the city had contributed a total of $30,000 to the HCEDC over a three-year period. Prior to the creation of the HCEDC, the city spent $85,000 to $125,000 on economic development. Pope commented, “So we’ve gone from a lot to very little.”

Council members requested that a member of the HCEDC attend the council’s next meeting scheduled for Jan. 15.

Water line project moves forward

Though there was an unexpected disruption of water service on Monday, council members noted that they were generally pleased with the contractor’s overall work and attitude.

Council members talked to the MECO inspector Kevin Ashby about the lack of sufficient notice to give residents warning of water disruption. Ashby, who is on site with the contractor, acknowledged that Stoneburner should have given more notice; but he emphasized the contractor’s overall good work and willingness to accommodate requests. “In my 35 years in this work, Stoneburner is one of the best contractors I’ve worked with.” Council members Bobby Robb and Michael Pope commented that water customers may be inconvenienced now, but they will see better service in the future as a result of the installation of new water pipes.

Stoneburner Construction is installing new water pipes along sections of North Church Street, West Davis, East Morrison, Howard, and Highway 5. Funds to pay for the installation come from USDA grants.

Various issues discussed

• Council member Wally Eaton complained about the response he received from city personnel concerning a request to facilitate the repair of damages yards at the corner of Louisiana and Walnut. City Administrator Robin Triplett noted Eaton’s concern and said she would address the issue.

• Council member Michael Pope asked that the building inspector inspect the building at 112 E. Morrison St. for possible derelict property violations.

• Council members will consider placing a local use tax proposal on the April 2013 ballot.

• Council members discussed getting one of the power plant engines ready to operate in case of a city-wide power outage.

• David Holliday, owner/operator  of AAA Waste, attended the council meeting and asked for feedback on their service. Council members expressed approval of AAA’s service. Pope said, “I appreciate your attitude and responsiveness.”

In other business, council members:

• Waived the sewer bill for Teresa Whitley at 600 N. Mulberry, Lot 14, for the Nov. 30 billing period.

• Despite the appeal of Colleen Thurmon, owner of a house at 204 Highway 5 & 240 for more reduction of a high water bill — due to a pipe break — during the Nov. 30 billing cycle, the council maintained their original decision which was to waive the sewer bill and reduce the water bill by half.

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