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Vidalia borrows $6 million

VIDALIA — The City of Vidalia is taking out a $6 million loan in the form of bonds to cover its expenses until the water level of the Mississippi River goes up and the city can begin collecting royalty funds again from the hydroelectric plant.

The Vidalia Board of Aldermen voted at its Tuesday meeting to pre-file an ordinance and adopt a resolution allowing the city to issue the bonds.

City Attorney Jack McLemore said the city issued similar bonds in 2001, which he said was also a low-water year.

Mayor Hyram Copeland added that is was not unusual for the city to issue the bonds because it has been done before.

“It is unusual for (the river) to be as low as it is,” he said.

Lawyer Alan Offner, of Foley and Judell law firm of New Orleans, said the city would go before the state bond commission at the commission’s Jan. 20 meeting to get the bond issuance approved.

McLemore said the city would not receive the $6 million in a lump sum. He said, instead, the city would borrow the money as needed.

“I’m not sure that will make it (until the river goes up),” he said. “But we will draw it as we need it.”

Copeland said the money would cover the city’s operating expenses.

In other news from the meeting:

-The board decided to request proposals from waste collection and disposal companies for services.

The city currently provides its own trash pick-up and disposal service through its sanitation department. The service, Copeland said, costs the city approximately $700,000 to $800,000 yearly.

Copeland said the service is too costly for the city to continue with it. He said, therefore, the city would like to explore the option of contracting the service out.

“I don’t know any other municipality that has a sanitation department our size,” he said.

Copeland said he has already met with Waste Pro USA and Waste Management to discuss options for waste collection. He said the companies have agreed to sit down with the city and discuss the possibility of employing the city’s sanitation department employees if the city decides to contract for waste collection and disposal services.

The city is currently only considering contracting out the services, Copeland said.

“Nothing is etched in stone yet,” he said.

-Natchez-Adams County Green Alliance President Jim Smith appeared before the board to inform them of Concordia Metal’s recycling services and the alliance’s efforts to help implement curbside recycling in Natchez, Adams County and Vidalia.

Natchez will be participating in a pilot program involving 1,700 households to kick-start a curbside recycling program with its new waste collection provider, Waste Pro USA.

Smith said the alliance also intends to apply for a grant for recycling equipment and educational materials. Some of that equipment, such as bins, can be used in Vidalia.

Alderman Ricky Knapp voiced his support for the efforts and said he hopes Vidalia can begin curbside recycling.

“There is strength in numbers, and if we can get the whole Miss-Lou on board, we really need to make it work this time,” he said.