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Pothole proves costly for resident

By Staff
BIG REPAIR BILL Ametra Toole holds onto a piece of her mother's 2000 Daewoo Lanos behind a recently paved portion of 24th Street. Toole's mother, Sara, was driving her car on 24th Street between 39th and 41st avenues on one recent afternoon when one of the tires hit a pothole and the pavement broke part of the vehicle's undercarriage. Sara Toole is asking the city to pay the $1,000 bill to have the car repaired. "If they have the money to fill in the pothole the day after we reported it, they have the money to fix my car," Toole said.
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
April 25, 2004
Sara Toole was driving her grandson to school one recent afternoon when all of the sudden wham the front end of her car smashed into the pavement.
The cause: A large pothole in the middle of the road near the intersection of 24th Street and 39th Avenue in Meridian.
Toole says the potholes should have already been repaired with $6 million Meridian officials borrowed in August to fund such projects but have yet to take out of the bank.
Toole complained to city councilmen about the damage this past week. But, councilmen said since there was no prior knowledge of the pothole and no one had reported it, they were not liable and could not pay for the repairs.
Instead, Toole will have to foot the bill, the latest in a round of complaints about the city's delays in paving and repairing streets with money it borrowed last year.
Construction bids are due back on Thursday for a large paving project. Public Works Director Monty Jackson has said the city council could vote to hire an asphalt company by its first meeting in May.
With council approval, Jackson said, work could begin near the first of June about 10 months after Meridian officials received $6 million borrowed through the sale of general obligation bonds on Aug. 26, 2003.
The city will pay 3.76 percent interest on the loan over a period of 20 years; the money has been in an account at AmSouth Bank, where it earns about 1 percent interest.
Mayor John Robert Smith first announced plans for the paving project in November 2002. Councilmen voted in March 2003 to borrow the money and waited until earlier this year to adopt a list of streets to be repaired.
Mayor Smith says the delays will ultimately save city taxpayers money. He has said the city borrowed the money last summer to get a good interest rate, put the money in an interest-bearing bank account and waited to open the project for bids until the city could tap the asphalt market at the right time.
But Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith isn't convinced. Smith, who has proposed funding repairs on a yearly basis rather than borrowing money to do the work, said city streets are in dire need of improvement.
Ward 1 Councilman George Thomas said he, too, is ready for the work to begin. Thomas said he constantly hears comments from constituents who ask, "When are y'all going to start paving streets?"
And when someone like Toole is affected by the condition of the streets, Thomas said, "It's not good."
Toole, 51, has lived in Meridian all her life and she said she's been paying city taxes for as long as she can remember. With all the street problems in Meridian, she can't understand why it's taking so long.