Voice of the people: Kerry Blalock

 

 

 

Questions efficiency of project management firm 

 

The new fire station is progressing very slowly. In September of 2015 our Chief said it would be operational by fall of 2016 and would cost $600,000. Well that didn't happen and construction was started July 2016. By September 2017 the cost had risen to $1,000,000 and the Chief stated it would be complete by early 2018. Robert Smith said the station would be ready to move in by June 2019. In December 2018 Andrews said the city had paid the Biloxi firm Machado Patono $28,000 to design the fire house. Why would we go to Biloxi to get a fire house design? Well could it be because former front man for J5 Robyn Eastman is employed by them? We have plenty of good architects in this area so why go there? The design has recently been redone by J. Wilcutt design company, a local firm. I wonder how much more we had to pay for that. 

 

All of our city projects have been overseen by J5 and they seem to have been done poorly. Our wonderful unneeded amphitheater has cost us $3,000,000 of tax dollars. It has no seats, no restrooms and no parking. City Hall cost us $2,000,000 for a complete renovation only to have a leaking roof which we had to pay for also. Now the fire station is way overdue and over-budget. Whenever the J5 team shows up it seems to be a lot of extra money spent. These are the guys that are supposed to come in under budget and ahead of schedule. I built a metal building similar to the fire station on my property in the county three years ago and was able to do it for less than $20 per square foot. The city is looking at $100 per square foot. Wow what a difference!  

 

J5's owner and his corporations don't seem to be able to manage their own business, much less the cities. They have not paid off all their tax leins and are accumulating more. The latest being not paying their unemployment taxes to the state.  

 

We recently were downgraded as a city by Moodys ratings. This will lead to higher costs for borrowing money. Our taxes are going up and we are almost bankrupt. We just agreed to borrow up to $5,000,000 for the storm and now the Mayor wants to borrow another $3,000,000 for the street lights. Every time we borrow money for the city it is like you are co-signing with someone for a loan. Now that would be fine if it is someone you trust and you hope they will pay it back so you can maintain your credit rating. Well my question is would you co-sign a loan with the city of Columbus? I know I would not under any circumstances.  

 

Kerry Blalock 

 

Columbus 

 

 

 

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