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Council holds workshop focused on paving decisions

The Picayune City Council held a workshop on Thursday morning to discuss the 2020 citywide paving project. After receiving bids for the work, the total for the outlined streets came to approximately $5.3 million, but with two large omissions, Memorial Blvd and Goodyear Blvd.

Councilman Wayne Gouguet was adamant that Memorial Boulevard and Goodyear Boulevard be included in the repair work even if it costs the City more money.

On April 8, 2020, Gouguet voiced his opinion during a council meeting.

“When we get to the end of this bidding process, then we will have a better idea of what things are going to cost and maybe the bids will come in under estimate and we can afford to pave these two roads, but, if not, we are going to have to come up with some money somewhere to do it. These are major roads in the city.”

Jonathan Hickman with Dungan Engineering, who serves as the city’s engineering firm, said the base bid came in around $150,000.00 higher than his firm’s original estimate, but he was pleased with the overall composition of the base bid.

Hickman also presented costs what he noted as alternate bids (additional costs) that showed the prices for Memorial Blvd from Bales Ave (adjacent to Applebee's) to Highway 11 ($170,369.15), all of Memorial Blvd to Highway 11 ($306,751.25), Goodyear Blvd travel lanes only ($273,516.60), Goodyear Blvd with travel lanes and parking areas ($481,511.00), and Millbrook intersections to correct drainage problems ($122,522.50) due to payment being too high for the previous drainage work. Hickman said the Goodyear parking altenate cost includes a redo of the sidewalks in front of Crosby Commons Park due to the handicap parking spaces not meeting ADA accessibility standards.

Council member Tammy Valente voiced her concern that projects in her precinct have been planned for years, but not yet performed.She stated she has raised concerns about the Millbrook drainage problems for years.

Gouguet raised the point that if Memorial and Goodyear Boulevards are put off for another 3 or 4 years, he believes there would be an increased cost to the City as stand-alone projects, over what it would cost now by including them in to the current plan. Gouguet said that Memorial Blvd was last paved 15 years ago and he feels it has to be done now because if not, who knows how long it will last.

Hickman concurred with Gouguet’s assessment and said “the only reason it is hold up now is because the base work underneath the existing asphalt was done very well during the last paving”.

Gouguet, Hickman, and Hinton all agreed that if the paving of Goodyear and Memorial is put off, it will cost substantially more in years to come due to mobilizing costs of a contractor’s equipment and resources and the possibility of fuel and material increases. Hickman added that the price quoted for the asphalt for the base work and alternate projects is a very good one at the current time. He also said that the Dungan team ranked the paving of Memorial Blvd and Goodyear Blvd very high in need of being paved at this time and they were put as alternate costs for the council because of the price to do the paving projects.

Gouguet added that Memorial Blvd is most likely the busiest thoroughfare in the city and it is in most cases the first road someone coming to Picayune drives. Gouguet’s comments support his previous concerns referring to attracting people and businesses to Picayune with a good first impression. Valente echoed Gouguet’s comments that both of the roadways have to be paved now.

Hinton told the council members present that any of the alternate projects can be done and the funds would have to come from the City’s cash reserves. Hinton stated that the depletion of funds from cash reserves should not a surprise to anyone because there are projects that are underway that have to be finished, the upcoming cost of consolidating the 911 dispatch with the county, and other things they were previously committed from cash reserves. However, Hinton, reiterated this is what the cash reserves are for and the city has been able to build the cash reserves back up by moving unused budgeted money back into cash reserves at the end of each fiscal year. Hinton said she is concerned, but confident the reserve will be rebuilt and the key ti that is future revenues, which are mostly based on property appraisals. She added that she believes timing of the paving project, the consolidated dispatch, and other projects is what will determine the amount of month’s of cash reserves the city will be able to put aside. Ideally, Hinton said she likes to have six months and even with all the projects, she feels the city will be able to stay around three months of reserves.

“Everything is not coming out of cash reserves on day one, “ she stated.

During further discussion, Breland stated that he was in agreement if the council wants to pave Memorial Blvd and Goodyear Blvd, but not with the notion that the ability to do other projects in neighborhoods as they come up would be turned down due to limited cash reserves.

Councilman Larry Breland expressed his concern that future projects could be in jeopardy if the reserve fund is reduced to a point that no extra work projects could be planned or completed until the reserve is built back up.

“ If we spend $200,000 the day before and then come back not be able to do other projects for like $5,000 because cash reserves is low, that’s not fair,” Breland said.

Moments later Breland said, “If you are going to do this, then why not cut out some of the streets in these precincts where this is to cover the costs and decrease the amount coming out of cash reserves?”

Gouguet told Breland that the notion to ask another council person (referring to precincts represented by Jan Miller-Stevens) to take money out for other streets in her district to pave Memorial Blvd was ‘ludicrous’. Breland responded telling Gouguet that he was “full of it”. Gouget asked Breland “Full of what?” to which Breland said while trying not to laugh, “You know what you're full of.”

The Council is set to vote on whether to accept or decline the bids to start road work at the next City Council meeting set for Tuesday, July 7th at 5:00 p.m.


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