The poor condition of many of Yazoo City’s streets is a regular topic of concern during city board meetings, and this week was no exception.
Ward 4 Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. said Monday that he doesn’t think the city’s public works department is doing enough to address problems on city streets, but Mayor Diane Delaware said the city can only do the work it can afford.
“I spoke about potholes in our last meeting and I continued to drive over the same potholes the next week,” Brent said. “Sometimes it seems like when we’re talking to our department heads what we say to them goes in one in and comes out the other. I don’t think it’s the mayor’s job to have to call department heads about potholes. Our department heads have automobiles, they have trucks. The biggest thing they need to come for us for is a (purchase order) number to order the materials they need to fill the potholes. There’s such a nonchalant attitude there.”
Delaware said heavy rainfall in recent weeks has created an unusual situation that has made problems worse.
“There are many streets in Yazoo City that require action,” Delaware said. “It has rained quite a bit, and it’s very difficult to put hot mix in a hole where the rain is still sitting.”
Delaware said the bottom line is that the city has far more needs when it comes to street repairs than it has money.
“Like it or not, you can only do what you have the money to do,” Delaware said. “We do a budget every year, and we all know why we did a bond to get the funding to fix these roads.”
Delaware said there are some streets in Yazoo City that are too far gone to simply patch.
“We’ve got to face this, we have some very bad streets in Yazoo City,” she said. “We don’t have enough money to buy all of the hot mix it would take to fix them. One of the things you learn when you’re actually in charge is that you can only spend the money you have – not money that you desire or money that you wish you had. When you do the math, the math is impervious to feelings and perceptions. The math is the truth. I can name some streets that we can’t fix right now, and we have to look in the mirror and face that because only then will we do what is necessary to fix them.”
Delaware pointed at efforts to maintain Fifteenth Street and the decline of Jackson Avenue as examples.
“We can’t fix Fifteenth Street because it would cost a million bucks, and we don’t have it,” Delaware said. “Jackson Avenue is the same way. The money doesn’t exist, but we are seeking those funds.”
The city is close to securing bond money that will go a long way toward fixing city streets, but Delaware said it won’t be nearly enough to fix every problem. She said the city will continue to seek other sources of funding, including federal grants.
Delaware said she remembers a time when many of the city’s streets were unpaved, and the federal government funded the improvements.
“I don’t care what political party tries to make you believe otherwise, the federal government paved most roads in the United States of America and thus created jobs for people and created an economic system where people worked and got paid and America rose. Now we are a country that is like some other old countries that must invest in our infrastructure.”
Delaware said she believes better days are ahead for Yazoo City, but she also believes residents deserve an honest assessment of where the city stands today.
“It’s not hopeless, and we are doing what we can to fix the problem, but I’m not going to lie about the situation,” Delaware said.