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Looking at the road paving ahead

Pearl River County’s new four-year road plan proposes that 988 miles of county maintained road will be paved and additional staff will be hired in the road department.

The four-year plan for 2020 to 2023 was approved by the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors on Monday. Road Manager Charlie Schielder said the plan is not set in stone and can be adjusted as needed.

Under this  road plan, the Board is planning to raise the millage for the road department to 3 mills, to cover the $9 million cost of resurfacing and repairing an additional 130 miles of road. The plan proposes using in house labor for DBST repairs and contracting out the work for hot mix overlays.

The plan estimates that the road department will need to increase its staff from 55 people in 2020 to 66 by the end of 2023.

There are 11 upcoming state aid projects, which are funded with state dollars, included in the plan, and 11 bridge replacement and repair projects. There are 51 roads planned to undergo overlay projects, and 62 roads with DBST pavement projects planned. Some of the roads will only have their worst segments repaired, while others will need complete overlays or even base repairs and leveling, according to the road plan.

In a separate matter, the Board also approved refinancing a 2018 bond issue for a lower interest rate. No payments have been made on the bond issue yet, and the county is not set to make payments on it until next year. The bond issue was for the construction of the County Courthouse Annex.

The drawback of refinancing is that it locks the county into a 20 year plan with no opportunity to refinance again, said County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, but he believes it is unlikely the county would have the opportunity to refinance again at a lower interest rate.

In a separate matter, the Board approved an emergency purchase of a new chiller system at the Pearl River County Health Department building. The Board accepted the lowest quote, $106,383 from Mechanical Services, LLC. Lumpkin said a mechanical engineer reviewed the quotes and recommended the lowest quote, which is almost $80,000 less than the higher quote.

The next Board meeting will be Wednesday, April 21, at 9 a.m.