Waveland’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Wednesday returned to hosting virtual meetings. 

Waveland Mayor Mike Smith said that the public will now be required to wear masks when entering city buildings. 

Smith said that the virtual meetings will continue until “we can see some relief in the numbers from this COVID-19.” 

“With that being said, in the last two weeks, the amount, the numbers for Hancock County have risen approximately five-and-a-half people per day in the last weeks, which is very concerning,” Smith said. “We, as adults, have to take some responsibility and make sure that we mask up, that’s the best thing we can do as a public, as a municipality is to mask up, because that is one thing that we know will stop this virus and prevent from getting somebody else sick.” 

In a separate matter, the board also discussed an energy project with PATH, LLC. 

Earlier this year, PATH performed an energy audit, which meant the company looked at the city’s utility bills, infrastructures, lighting, and HVAC equipment, PATH Vice President Rudy Watkins said. 

The company determined the city’s current energy spendings and determined the best opportunities for the city to save money annually, he said. 

PATH returned to the city with three energy projects. 

The first option is a lighting project. The scope of work is LED conversions at five facilities; interior and exterior; and 25 percent architectural fixtures, 75 percent retrofits. 

The second option is adding HVAC. The scope of work includes HVAC replace/redesign at the Civic Center on Coleman Avenue (Ground Zero Hurricane Museum); add smart thermostats controls at the civic center; and add a server room AC unit at city hall. 

The third option is add streetlights. The scope of work includes LED conversion of 201 city-owned streetlights; refurbish and reinstall eight city-owned streetlights; and removal of 33 redundant leased streetlights. 

The total upfront cost for all three options is $644,520. The annual projected savings in energy costs for all three projects is about $60,253, with a projected cumulative payback of 10.7 years, according to PATH’s project breakdown. 

PATH co-founder Nathan Wells spoke to the board on Wednesday and said that the monthly savings would be about $5,021 on the total project. 

The board went on to discuss how the city would pay for the project with either a one-time payment or financing. 

Waveland comptroller Ron Duckworth said he suggests the city pay cash for the project. 

“You’re not going to get ten percent rate of return on that kind of money anywhere,” he said. “Savings of $60,000 on an investment of $644,000.” 

Alderman Jeremy Burke said that he didn’t think financing is the best option and paying cash would be the better option. 

“Paying for this project with reserves, it’s not going to affect our bottom line all too much,” Burke said. “I’d rather just move forward with this project.” 

Wells said if the city chose to finance, he suggested a ten-year finance plan. 

“Here’s what we find when we do these projects,” he said. “You’re going to know within the first two years whether or not you’re meeting the savings numbers that we’re guaranteeing.” 

Wells added that if the city doesn’t see the savings, PATH will “pick up the shortfall of what we promised you.” 

“We’ve never missed a number,” Wells said. 

The contract with PATH also includes a savings guarantee, he said, and the numbers also include “no change order pricing.” 

“When we say we’re going to fix it, we’re going to fix and fix it for that price,” Wells said. 

Aldermen Shane LaFontaine said that he agreed with Burke and that the city is not “running a city to stockpile money.” 

“We are running a city to do projects and things like that,” LaFontaine said. “I agree completely with him (Burke) but we also have to act fiscally responsible as well.”

Alderman Bobby Richardson said he agrees with the board members. 

“I think we do need to get with Ron and get some numbers,” he said. “I try to be tight with money. I don’t want to spend $700,000 of our citizens’ money.” 

Alderman Charles Piazza said that the civic center is “pretty serious,” as it is one of “Waveland’s oldest buildings,” and he would like to see the air conditioning repaired in the building. 

The board decided to instruct Duckworth to compile several different scenarios to determine the breakdown of savings of paying cash versus financing. 

City attorney Malcolm Jones said that it is a “unique contract,” and that he would also need more time to structure the contract.

“Normally, if we were going to go out and have somebody install equipment and provide services for this level, we would have to advertise and do the lowest and best bid,” he said.

Jones said he is seeking advice on the matter.

“The other part is that, typically, when you have an agreement that goes past the end of the term of office, it’s not binding on the successor administration except for limited things like solid waste contracts,” he said. 

Wells said the MS code section 31-7-14 provides for “energy services contract.” 

“You have bid this out,” he said. “You bid this out when you did this months and months ago when you chose PATH to be your energy services provider. Under the law, it lays out how the process works.” 

The board took no official action on the matter. 

In a separate matter, after an executive session to discuss “potential litigation,” the board unanimously voted to once again table the resolution calling for a special election to be held in Waveland on Aug. 4 in relation to an ordinance granting non-exclusive elective franchise to Mississippi Power Company, its successors, and assign a franchise in the city. The current draft order states that Mississippi Power has requested a 25-year franchise ordinance which would provide a three percent payment of Mississippi Power’s total revenue from retail sales of electric energy within Waveland or $300 per annum. 

The board also tabled the matter at the July 7 meeting, stating that the city did not have enough information from Mississippi Power to vote on a franchise agreement.


In other action: 

The board spread on the minutes an asbestos report submitted by Covington Civil and Environmental for the blighted property located at 467 Hwy. 90, the former Travel Express Inn. No asbestos was detected, which means that the project doesn’t require a special asbestos contractor, city attorney Malcolm Jones said. The city is expected to award the bid for demolition at the Aug. 4 meeting. 

The next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. 

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