Picayune city leaders considering tax increase to replace deteriorating police department
“Mold, Mildew and crumbling walls... This is what we are asking our heroes to work in”
PICAYUNE, Miss. (WLOX) - Local leaders in Picayune are asking the community to step up and support their police officers. The city is considering a millage increase that would revitalize the department’s deteriorating facilities.
Picayune Mayor Jim Luke once served as the police chief, and he stresses the tax increase is a necessity.
“We have mold, mildew, crumbling walls, sewer pipes that are disintegrated practically. The smell is terrible, and this is the environment that we are asking our heroes to work in,” said the mayor.
The conditions are so bad, that Mayor Luke is inviting citizens to schedule a tour of the department so they can see for themselves.
“I am not asking - I am begging - for the public to come do a walkthrough and see the conditions,” said the mayor. “I don’t think they would want their daughter, their brother, their mother, their dad working in these conditions.”
Just by looking around, you can tell the police department is far from pristine. It was built back in 1978 and was never meant to be a forever home. Now, it is bursting at the seams. Files the department must store are practically overflowing in one room and the floor is caving in at certain spots.
Machado Patano engineering firm recently assessed the building, pointing out several issues. One of the biggest ones is that asbestos was found, which is a major health concern. The air conditioning was also found to be not up to code, in addition to a severe lack of space and litany of other issues.
In the summary of the report from Machado Patano, line architect Bradford Jones states: “Our office strongly advises against the city of Picayune putting any more effort, time, or money into this building. It will continue to cost the city and tax payers undue and unnecessary money to upkeep, repair, and renovate this facility.”
The tax increase would also give officers a pay raise. Raising officers’ salary would go a long way towards retaining employees, said the mayor, noting that many of the department’s finest go elsewhere in search of better compensation.
“The salaries are the lowest out of 15 comparable cities in Mississippi. Picayune has the lowest salary for a police officer. They are leaving here,” said the mayor. “We are training the police officers, but we are training them for other departments.”
A public hearing to discuss the potential tax increase is set for Sept. 7 at 5pm in the city council chambers. To schedule a tour of the building to see the state it’s in for yourself, contact the police department directly to set up a time.
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