- Paris Flash
- Real Estate
By Charles Richards
The Paris City Council will appoint a “citizens advisory committee” to prioritize new underground water and sewer lines and new streets over the next 12 months as the city finally begins the daunting task of replacing a deteriorating infrastructure.
Wednesday, when the council began its budget discussions for the fiscal year that will begin Oct. 1, the council signaled early in the meeting that it is intent on cleaning up the city and improving the infrastructure.
First, Mayor AJ Hashmi asked for and received from the council their concurrence to take $400,000 out of savings — enough to take down “every dilapidated house in the city.”
Then he went after the infrastructure.
Hashmi, who represents District 7 on the council, has indicated he supports pulling another $5 million out of the city’s reserves to go for infrastructure repairs.
“At some point, the council will come up with an idea of how to address the infrastructure and how we allocate money for it,” the mayor said.
“But before we do that, I would like to constitute a committee with a member from each of the seven districts. So that when we do start allocating funds for infrastructure repair — which means water, sewer, roadways, sidewalks, curbs, et cetera — that that committee be formed and that committee decides which segment of the town is where we start.”
The committee would consult with city engineering and other staff, but from that point “let it be the decision of that committee where we need to start and which streets take precedence,” the mayor added.
Other council members quickly concurred.
“I agree. I think it’s a good idea,” District 1 councilman Aaron Jenkins said.
“I think it’s a good idea. I think we need to be very careful to select people who have better vantage points than we do,” District 3 councilman John Wright said.
District 4 councilman Dr. Richard Grossnickle said: ”I take it that if we appoint a citizens’ advisory committee, the city council will have no input in it?”
The mayor replied, “It would be fair to all districts, and we would need to rely on them. Once the committee is selected, we need to go by their decisions.”
Hashmi added: “Obviously the committee would consult with the city engineer and other staff, but if the committee says the first street to be done is Pine Bluff, then the first street to be done is Pine Bluff.”
District 6 councilwoman Cleonne Drake asked how the committee would be selected. Would anyone interested be required to apply?
“I think we as council members have been given the responsibility to make some judgments, and I think we as a council can put those people on the committee,” the mayor said.
Dr. Grossnickle made the motion, “that we create a citizens advisory committee on capital improvements, to be appointed by the council with members from each district, most likely selected by the district council member.”
The motion passed 6-0, with District 2 councilwoman Sue Lancaster joining in the unanimous vote. District 5 councilman Matt Frierson was out of town.
Later in the agenda, city manager John Godwin unveiled his proposed 2012-2013 budget, which included $1.2 million in new money for water and sewer lines and as much new money as he could find for demolition, for drainage, and for streets, sidewalks and curbs.
The city manager said he has already instructed city staff “to be ready to begin work in early October,” if the council approves his recommendations.
“I recommend you talk some more and think about whether you want to spend more money on streets, even above what I have added,“ Godwin said.
“This is a good bit of money, but this is mostly going to be maintenance money, unfortunately, not replacement,” he said.
“I would recommend to you that the citizens committee, which is a great thing to have, be in charge not only with coming up with a list of projects to do first, but they need to develop a 10-year capital improvement program (CIP) so that you can look at all of the things that come up,” Godwin added.
“Typically, cities have more like a five-year CIP, but I would recommend a 10-year CIP to really look at things long term and really plan long term, to get a mindset of planning things rather than just hitting things one year at a time.”
Godwin said he included in the budget a part-time planner, to come aboard in November.
send comments about this article to
(Image Source: www.paristexas.gov)