By Josh Troy
Coahoma County officials discovered the Board of Supervisors had never officially committed to allocating funds toward repairing leaks in the Carnegie Public Library roof, as planned, but rectified the situation at Monday’s meeting.
The Supervisors unanimously voted on Monday to spend $70,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the first of two phases of roof repairs. Coahoma County received a total of $4.2 million in ARPA funds.
The County will be sharing some of the roof repair costs with the City of Clarksdale.
Carnegie Public Library Board Chair Shelia Winters and Director Tracy Caradine asked the Supervisors to allocate funds for the repairs at the Dec. 14, 2022, meeting, but Board Attorney Tom Ross realized no official action was taken.
“We talked about the library proposal,” said Ross at Monday’s meeting. “I can’t find where it got to the minutes.”
Chancery Clerk Carolyn Parham agreed.
“I went back and listened to my recording,” she said. “They did not approve that (allocating funds for roof repairs). The last thing they said was, Tom needs to get with the city and make sure they put that order in writing.”
Parham said, at the June 21, 2022, meeting, a motion was made for the Board of Supervisors to contribute a total of $150,000 toward library roof repairs for both phases, but where the funding would not come from was not determined.
After talking with Ross, County Administrator Kim Seals placed an item on the agenda Monday for the board to have an opportunity to allocate funds for library roof repairs.
The board then officially approved using $70,000 of ARPA funds for the first phase of library roof repairs.
Seals said the total cost of repairs is expected to be $366,686 and come in two phases. She said the City of Clarksdale and Coahoma County will split payments that add up to $298,551.39. She added a $68,134.61 Certificate of Deposit for insurance from First National Bank of Clarksdale will also go toward paying for library roof repairs.
Ross said the City of Clarksdale previously approved spending $70,000 to help pay for Phase 1 of roof repairs. He added, by the city and county each committing $70,000 toward the first phase, the bidding process for a contractor to make the repairs can begin.
Ross said the City of Clarksdale may be seeking a grant to pay for its $70,000 of Phase 1 of roof repairs.
“Is the city saying they are looking for a grant before they disburse any money or are they saying they are going to pay 70 grand?” said Supervisor Derrell Washington. “I thought I heard them say we are looking for a grant.”
Ross said Clarksdale City Attorney Melvin Miller told him the city has committed to paying $70,000 for the first phase of roof repairs, even if a grant is not available.
“I think they’re still looking for grant money to pay their $70,000 or part of it,” Ross said.
Washington still had concerns.
“What happens if we send our $70,000 over there and it’s just sitting there waiting on the grant?” he said.
Ross said Carnegie Public Library Board Attorney Ted Connell emailed him and Miller. He added Connell’s email was letting them know the Library Board was ready to seek bids for a contractor.
“They wanted to make sure the money was there and was coming before they signed the contract,” Ross said.
Supervisors consultant Daniel Vassel suggested waiting to see what the cost of roof repairs would be before committing $70,000 of ARPA funds toward Phase 1.
“If it were me, I would put the bids out first and we would know exactly how much it was going to cost,” Vassel said.
“I think, at this point, they just want to know we’ve obligated ourselves to do stuff,” Ross replied. “They’re not actually asking for the money. They’re just asking for confirmation that we’ve obligated the funds.”
Washington said the library roof repairs have been discussed for months and it is a simple matter. He felt the Supervisors, Commissioners, and Library Board should have a meeting.
“I just don’t see what’s so hard in getting everyone in the room and talking about doing this jointly,” he said.
Ross acknowledged bids for Phase 1 of repairs may come out to cost more than the combined $140,000 the city and county committed toward the project. The city and county voted to pay $70,000 apiece for Phase 1 of repairs.
“I think we just need to be ready when they invoice us for it,” he said.