Cable ONE gets contract to be city cable service provider

Published 12:07 am Wednesday, July 10, 2013

NATCHEZ — Cable ONE will once again be the cable service provider the City of Natchez.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen agreed Tuesday to a 15-year franchise agreement with the company, pending review of the agreement by the city attorney.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith, chair of the utilities committee, has been working with Adams County officials on researching the agreement and asked the board to proceed with it at Tuesday’s meeting.

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Smith said the Cable ONE has agreed to reimburse the city approximately $7,000 for an audit conducted by Local Government Services of Dahlonega, Ga.

The audit was done to ensure the cable provider has properly paid the city and county over the course of the agreements.

The audit company found, Smith said, that Cable ONE had underpaid the city approximately $3,000, which Cable ONE has agreed to repay.

Cable ONE will pay 5 percent of gross subscriber revenue each to the city and county as it did in the previous agreement.

Smith also said Tuesday it is possible the state may take over all cable franchise agreements in the future.

The city, county and Cable ONE held a required public hearing in March during which residents expressed concerns about channel availability, pricing and telephone and Internet service.

The county, Smith said, is expected to vote soon on the franchise agreement.

Smith also noted improvements Cable ONE has made and plans to make to their service in the area. Those improvements include spending $100,000 on cable replacement and an additional $7,000 replacing other equipment, four additional miles of fiber and the extension of service to include new industries on River Terminal Road and other upgrades.

Smith said overall, Cable ONE plans to spend $500,000 on improvements.

In other news from the aldermen meeting:

4The board voted to accept a text amendment to the city’s development code to add micro-distillery and micro-winery to the definition of micro-brewery and allow the businesses in the B-3, B-4 and in the city and by special exception in the B-2 and waterfront districts.

The amendment would be a step toward the opening of a rum micro-distillery in the former King’s Tavern bar location on Jefferson Street by local businessman Doug Charboneau and his son Jean Luc.

4The board voted to accept the donation of a lot on St. Catherine Street from the property owner. The vote came at the request of Community Development Director James Johnston, who said the property will be used for the Chartre Companies’ scattered-site housing project on Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Catherine streets.

The mayor said the project has accumulated approximately 40 lots for the projects, and the city hopes to get another 60. The project is part of the city’s ongoing effort to beautify Martin Luther King Jr. Street and the surrounding areas.

4Ward 2 Alderman Ricky Gray expressed concerns about content being included in the city’s aldermen meeting minute books not presented at the actual meetings.

Gray specifically mentioned city department head reports.

“If it’s not presented to the board, then it should not be part of the minute books,” Gray said.

City Attorney Hyde Carby said that attachments could be appended to the minutes but that those attachments should be presented to the aldermen at public meetings.

4Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard voiced frustration about an error that seems to keep being repeated in the board’s budget reports.

The error shows the account for the annual lease payment from Magnolia Bluffs Casino has $645,000.

Dillard expressed further concern about expending money without a firm understanding of the city’s finances, which he said will likely not be achieved until after the city receives its audit report.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway said the board should receive an audit report at its next meeting on July 23.

Mayor Butch Brown said he and Holloway may not have a complete feel for the city’s finances, but are “pretty darn close.”

The audit, Brown said, will give the city a starting number for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

“When we started the audit, the numbers we had were incomplete and incorrect,” he said. “What we have been concentrating on doing for the last seven or eight months … is to get a starting number for this fiscal year. Hopefully we have that. If we don’t, we’re pretty darn close. Once we have a set of numbers to start on, it will be easier for the clerk to provide you monthly summaries.”

4The board voted to reject bids for roofing and masonry work for the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center.

The rejection was a recommendation from local architect Amelia Salmon, who was representing the project’s architectural firm, Albert & Associates of Hattiesburg.

Salmon said the bids came in higher than the available $140,000 in funds for the project.

Albert & Associates recommends that the project be bid again for just the roofing work, Salmon said. The masonry work, Salmon said, may be less than the $50,000 required for the public bidding process.

The city could, therefore, solicit bids for the masonry work from local companies.

The board voted to accept a bid of $28,000 for repair work to the center’s stage and the ceiling above the stage. The vote came at the request of Historic Natchez Foundation Executive Director Mimi Miller. The foundation is administering a grant for the work at the request of the city.

4The board met in executive session for approximately an hour before its regular meeting to discuss a personnel matter related to a litter control officer and the lease of the City Auditorium to Christ Life Church of Ridgeland.

No action was taken regarding the litter control officer, but the board agreed to proceed with the lease with Christ Life Church.