Ideas and suggestions were heard Monday night for the second time on how to spend surplus hydroelectric funds in Vidalia.
The second public hearing was held at Vidalia’s Town Hall where Mayor Buz Craft and Town Council members explained how projects were chosen for funding.
During the two public hearings, projects were listed by Craft, Town Council members, and Vidalia residents for possible funding. After the public hearings, Town Council members “approve the expenditures of surplus revenues for projects deemed to be in the best public interest,” according to the ordinance pertaining to the surplus hydroelectric funds.
Craft said the next step after the two public hearings and compiling the list was to obtain cost estimates for each project.
“Maybe we could meet with the aldermen together and go through this list and try to put dollars and cents to the list (of projects),” Craft said. “Then come back for another meeting to say ‘This is what we are going to do.’ Maybe we can do every bit of it. I’m hoping we can.”
In the first meeting, Craft estimated Vidalia had $22 million in surplus but cautioned the amount was “not an open checkbook.”
The funds discussed at the meetings do not affect Vidalia resident’s utility rebates, according to Craft. Residents are expected to receive 50 percent of their electric bills back in November.
“Ordinance 588 is very specific on how hydro money can be spent,” Craft said.
Additional ideas voiced during the second meeting were:
Place decorative street signs throughout Vidalia. Craft said he would see how many signs were in Vidalia and get a cost estimate.
“It really would dress up Vidalia and this would be for every district,” Craft said. “That would be nice.”
Residents also recommended having local artists prepare artwork on Vidalia’s utility boxes.
Refurbishing Vidalia Canal where it has eroded over the years was also another project endorsed by residents.
“Sounds like this is going to be a project we start as soon as possible,” Craft said.
Graham Roberts, Recreation Board member, suggested instead of a safety net over softball and baseball fields, Vidalia should install a windscreen. The windscreen would be of a tarp material and provide protection and shade.
“There is a lot of maintenance and replacing with the nets,” Roberts said.
Additionally, Roberts recommended soccer field upgrades.
“Soccer among the youth is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation,” Roberts said.
He suggested irrigation and grass for Vidalia’s 12 soccer fields. Roberts also recommended the addition of bathrooms and lights.
Vidalia hosts approximately 500 youth in its soccer program.
Last week, possible projects were: completion of Polk Park, payoff municipal debt, renovation of Council On Aging and Masonic Lodge, safety net for the baseball and softball parks, $500,000 to Concordia Parish School to help with Vidalia High School football field turf, Viking Street ditch refurbishment, asphalt Relay For Life parking lot, increase pay to $5,000 for summer youth program, insurance for Memorial Day parade, sidewalks on various neighborhoods, large American flag and removing trees that are dangerous to utility wires.