November 28, 2020

Historic city wise to plan infrastructure overhaul

Last week, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. proposed a plan to use more than $800,000 in state money as the foundation for a comprehensive capital improvements plan to pave streets and improve Vicksburg’s aging infrastructure.

Vicksburg is expected to receive about $820,000 from the state to use for street repairs and for water and sewer infrastructure needs. The money was included in a bill approved by Legislature at its August special session to divert revenue from sales tax collected on Internet sales to cities and counties for capital improvements.

The mayor said he wants to take that money and “maximize” it to create an infrastructure program for the city.

“I’m looking at trying to have a financial advisor look at that money and see whether or not we can structure it where we can borrow long-term money against it without hurting our constitutional cap,” he said.

It sounds like a good idea. It doesn’t take long to drive along city streets to see that despite spending about $8 million to pave city streets over the past four years we have a lot more streets that need to be fixed and repaved. And there are the problems we can’t see in the city’s water and sewer systems that also need immediate attention.

Vicksburg may be out from under its consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, but city officials still have to continue photographing, mapping, assessing and repairing and upgrading our 112-year-old sewer system.

Our water distribution system needs upgrading and the city has yet to award bids for the construction of an auxiliary waterline.

All of these projects need money, and the city is restricted on how much it can borrow in general obligation bonds.

Finding a way to fund infrastructure and paving without jeopardizing our borrowing capacity is something the mayor and the board should consider.

And the mayor seems to want to go in the right direction.