Magnolia is revisiting plans to upgrade its automated water meters and approved a resolution of intent to apply for a $500,000 loan.

Aldermen voted to apply for the CAP loan through the Mississippi Development Authority at their monthly board meeting Tuesday night.

Earlier this year, the board approved a contract with Fiske International Group with a $630,000 proposal to provide 1,000 new meters.

In 2016, the city entered into an agreement with Johnson Controls to install automated meters and other energy efficiency measures but nixed the deal and sued the company for bad faith, violation of bid laws and fraud.

Fiske International Group’s website lists four partnerships, one of which is Johnson Controls.

Additionally, the board approved a resolution to the Mississippi House of Representatives and the state Senate encouraging the expansion of high-speed internet service.

The initiative is a statewide effort, headed mainly by the Mississippi Municipal League.

In addition to providing electricity, the resolution allows rural electric cooperatives to provide internet access.

“Mississippi is a very a rural landscape,” Witherspoon said. “A lot of our municipalities in rural areas and its constituents may not have high-speed internet. … Internet now is not a convenience, it’s a need.” 

Electric cooperatives such as Magnolia Electric Power need enabling acts passed by the Legislature to expand the scope of their services, Witherspoon said.

“This (resolution) would allow them to redefine the scope of activities that electric cooperatives can engage in,” he said. “We give them the authority to provide internet to those residents who are in very rural areas.”

The city will also apply for community development block grants awarded through the Mississippi Development Authority, but Witherspoon said the type of project the grant will cover won’t be determined until after a public hearing.

“These grants are funding opportunities for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, so there has to be a public hearing to hear from the community on what the community feels the needs are in local municipalities before determining what type of project you would be applying for,” he said.

Last year, Magnolia officials received a $450,000 grant, which was used to repair the city’s sewage lagoons to comply with environmental regulations.

In other news, the board:

• Established a second board meeting to be held on the third Tuesday of each month, which will take effect January 2019.

“We find ourselves calling special meetings to handle other important issues that come up in the (regular) meetings,” Witherspoon said. “That creates a little chaos. … But if we now have two board meetings a month, it will reduce the number of special meetings we have to call and it will allow us to address pressing issues in the city with a degree of urgency.”

Witherspoon said a work session could be scheduled for the second board meeting as needed.

“As the mayor, I will build up the agenda and I will cancel the meeting if there’s nothing of extreme urgency that needs to be addressed or if there’s no more than five agenda items,” he said.

• Authorized The Ferguson Group to prepare a CAP loan application for a fee of $1,500 and to administer the project at no additional cost.

• Approved the BBI annual water billing software and hardware maintenance agreements for 2019.

• Agreed purchase Christmas decorations not to exceed $5,000.

• Approved a proclamation honoring the South Pike High School football team for its District 6-4A championship.

• Approved a fireworks show for Saturday, March 30, for the 13th anniversary of La Mariposa restaurant.

• Approved Magnolia’s Mardi Gras celebration, which will be held March 2, 2019.



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