FAQ

The telephone company says my address is not in their system and they need a 911 address before I can get service. Can you help me?

Yes. The Inspection Division has maps and other resources at the Community Development Department that we can use to verify addresses. Call the Inspection Division.

My neighbor's yard is overgrown. Can the city come out and cut it?

No and yes. By ordinance, the City cannot go onto private property. It is the property owner's responsibility to maintain his property. However, the City of Meridian has a Clean Community Act that regulates the condition of private property. The Code Enforcement Officer will notify the property owner that his property is in violation and must be cut. If, after due process, the property remains overgrown, the Inspection Division can ask the City Council to order the Public Works Department to cut the property. The cost of this procedure, plus a fine, is charged to the owner's property taxes.

Can I do work on my own house?

Yes, if you meet all of the following conditions:

  • You own the house.
  • It is your primary place of residence.
  • You are not paying anyone to help you.
  • The value of work is under a certain amount.
  • It is structural work only. Plumbing, electrical, and mechanical work must be done by licensed/bonded contractors, who will get their own permits.
  • A homeowner's permit is purchased from the city.
  • All work must be inspected and meet applicable codes.

Can I work in the City of Meridian under my license from another town or state?

No. All electrical, mechanical, or plumbing work done in the City of Meridian requires a permit. To get an electrical, mechanical, or plumbing permit, you must be licensed and bonded by the city. Bond forms are available from the Inspection Division, Community Development Department. To get a license, you must have taken and passed the ICC test for your profession, or you can transfer a license from another Mississippi town that requires a test to be licensed if you meet all the other requirements for license transfer under the State of Mississippi statutes. We do not reciprocate license transfers from any other states.

Is the tree in front of my house or business a city tree?

If the tree falls within the City right of way (ROW) or if any part of the trunk measured at 4½ feet above the ground touches the ROW line, then it is a city tree. To verify if a tree is on city property, contact the City of Meridian, Community Development Department.

Can I remove or plant a city street tree?

The City of Meridian has a permit process, free of charge, which can allow for the pruning, removal, and planting of city street trees. To apply for a permit, contact the City of Meridian, Community Development Department.

What does City Planning do?

The Planning Division prepares and amends the city's Comprehensive Plan and implements land use ordinances such as the Zoning Ordinance and the Subdivision Ordinance. Planning accepts applications for rezonings, variances, home occupation permits, special use permits, street closings, and subdivision plats. The Planning Division serves as secretary to the Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, and Tree Commission. Planning implements the City's Urban Forestry Program and the Community Rating System Program. Planning staff works with historic preservation issues and projects. Planning also applies for funds and implements grant projects such as the Community Development Block Grants, Recreation and Trails Grants, Urban Forestry Grants, and Certified Local Government Grants from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

What is the rezoning process and how long does it take?

A rezoning is a change from one zoning district to another. Rezonings are requests that are primarily intended to change the permissible uses for a property or properties. Applications and information packets including a review schedule and submittal review fees are available at the Planning Division. The Planning Commission meets monthly on the fourth Tuesday of each month except December. The City Council approves, denies, or remands applications. The estimated time to complete the rezoning review process is 45-60 days. The Official Zoning Map is located in the City Clerk's office, and an official copy is in the Inspections office at the Community Development Department. The zoning ordinance may be accessed on the City's website through the Municipal Code link.

Where can copies of current zoning maps be purchased?

See the Engineering Department on the second floor of the Public Works Building.

What part does Cultural Affairs play in City of Meridian government?

The Cultural Affairs Division is a part of Community Development and is staffed by the Cultural Affairs Coordinator and a secretary. The Cultural Affairs Division is charged with the responsibility of representing the City of Meridian in city-sponsored or co-sponsored special events and cultural programming and promoting cultural affairs events and activities for all segments of the community. The Cultural Affairs Coordinator and staff also serve as executive director and staff for the Meridian Council for the Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization.

How can I find out what events are on the events calendar and submit my event or get advice about events and grants?

Contact the Cultural Affairs Coordinator by phone, email, or regular mail and request information or submit information for the calendar.

How many people travel through Union Station every year?

Passengers originating in Meridian or with Meridian as their final destination on Greyhound and Amtrak, as well as passengers on Meridian Public Transit System buses, average 240,000 per year.

Do I need a permit to do work in City right of way abutting my property?

Yes; contact the Building and Inspection Division for a site development permit application.

What can I recycle?

You can recycle aluminum and tin cans, newsprint, plastic milk jugs, and plastic soda bottles.

Who are the people responsible for picking up trash?

Pickup of household garbage as well as trash is a contracted service provided by the City of Meridian through Southern Waste-A Waste Pro Company.

What is the size limit on limbs that can be picked up?

Limbs can be up to 5 feet in length and 8 inches in diameter. They can weigh no more than 60 pounds.

Why do employees just stand around a hole in the street not working?

The employees could be waiting on a piece of equipment that is coming, or someone could be in the hole already working with those on the street waiting to relieve them, or there may not be enough room for anyone else.

Whom do I call to have a streetlight repaired?

You need to call Mississippi Power.

Whom do I call if my water meter box is full of water?

Call Water Billing (Water – Collections).

Does the city spray for mosquitoes?

Yes we do. The mosquito spraying is done in routes covering the entire City of Meridian. Every area of the city should be sprayed every six weeks.

I hit a pothole that damaged my car. Whom do I call to file a claim?

You need to call the Risk Manager to file a claim. You also need to call the Public Works Main Office to report the pothole and its location.

There is water coming out of the manhole in front of my house. Whom do I call?

You need to call the Lines Maintenance Division (Water Line Repairs).

Can the City cut down or trim my tree if it is on City property?

The City of Meridian can cut down and trim only trees on the City right of way that have been determined to be a risk.

What is the walking distance around the walking track at Bonita Lakes Park?

The distance around the walking track is 1.19 miles.

How much does it cost to reserve a pavilion at Bonita Lakes Park?

The pavilions rent for $40 and if you need electricity it's an additional $25.

Is there any camping at Bonita Lakes Park?

There is no camping allowed at Bonita. The park hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Can charges be pressed against an individual driving a vehicle if the only information available is the tag number of the vehicle?

No. The owner may have allowed someone to borrow the vehicle, or it could have been stolen.

Can an individual be charged with domestic violence if they do not live with the victim?

Yes. State law says if the two ever had a relationship, even if they have parted ways, the charge can be brought. Examples could be ex-spouses, a former boyfriend or girlfriend, or a biological parent.

What does the minimum value of a stolen item have to be for the theft to constitute a felony?

State statute says the item has to have a value of $500 or more for the theft to be a felony.

When can an officer enter your home without permission?

If the officer believes a crime is being committed, when the officer knows for certain a wanted individual is in the house, or with a duly sworn search warrant, the officer may enter a house without the occupants' permission.

Why is it against the law for dogs to be at large and not cats?

No city ordinance has ever been written dealing with cats; however, all domesticated animals in the city are supposed to have rabies vaccination tags on collars around their necks. If a cat is known to be at large with no known owner, animal control can set a trap to capture the animal.

Why can't an officer write a ticket for a car parked on the street with an expired tag?

An expired tag is a MOVING violation. If there is no driver and the vehicle is not moving, no ticket can be issued.

Is a hearse allowed to operate emergency lights and a siren in a funeral procession?

No. State law says that only vehicles designated as emergency response vehicles may use sirens.

How do I get a smoke detector?

As funds are available, we provide smoke detectors free of charge to individuals based on need. For more information, call Fire Prevention/Inspection.

Why do fire trucks respond to medical calls?

Meridian firefighters are trained in basic first aid and CPR, and some are trained emergency medical technicians. The trucks are equipped with first aid and lifesaving equipment. Fire stations are located throughout the city, and firefighters can usually get to an emergency scene first to begin to administer aid until an ambulance arrives.

What is the city's fire rating and how is it determined?

The City of Meridian Fire Department is rated every four years by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau. The scale is from 1 to 10, with 1 being the best and 10 the lowest. Meridian is rated a Class 4 department. Numerous components are weighed in determining the rating. Fire prevention programs, building inspections, water supply, the number and location of stations, the level of training, manpower, and the number and types of fire apparatus are just a few of the items considered. By the way, only one city in the state is rated a 3, and none are rated 2 or 1. Your homeowner's fire insurance rates are based on the fire rating of the city.

Where do firefighters get their training?

Our firefighters are trained at the Mississippi Fire Academy, the National Fire Academy, and various other sites throughout the country. However, we now do the majority of our training at the Meridian Public Safety Training Facility on Sandflat Road. We have a state-of-the-art burn tower that gives our firefighters the opportunity to do live fire training in a controlled environment.

What types of training do firefighters receive?

Our firefighters are trained in emergency medical services, firefighting, hazardous materials response, incident command, confined space rescue, rope rescue, rapid intervention, and many other specialized areas.

How many civil defense sirens does the city have in the event of weather-related emergencies?

The city currently has nine sirens located throughout the city to notify citizens in the event of tornado warnings or other disasters. The sirens are tested monthly on the first Monday of the month at noon.

Why does a city the size of Meridian have a Department of Public Safety & Training, and where does the money come from?

Meridian's Department of Public Safety & Training focuses its attention on ensuring that the city's responders are trained and prepared to perform their duties. We act as coordinators for all response agencies during emergency situations. We secure and manage public safety funding. To date, the City of Meridian has received approximately $195,000 to equip the city's first responders and an additional $1.5 million to equip and train the regional response team.

What does the city spend public safety money on?

Currently, we are focusing on providing equipment and training for all responders. We have been able to purchase surveillance equipment; detection equipment for Public Works, the Fire Department, and our office; new ballistics vests and masks for the Police Department and Sheriff's Department special response teams; helmets for every patrol vehicle; decontamination equipment; vehicles; and a response trailer for the response team, along with other equipment.

How do you get a Public Safety job?

Our jobs are slightly different than other city employment positions. Only two positions within our department are funded solely by the City of Meridian, with an additional two subsidized by the City. All other positions are based on grant funding availability. Due to these positions being dependent on grants, they are not eligible for Civil Service status, and appointments are made by the City administration. Anyone interested in a position may fill out a temporary employment application with the City of Meridian personnel office. These applications will be reviewed upon receipt of funding availability.

Why does Meridian need an emergency management office?

The City of Meridian has followed in the footsteps of many cities with populations of over 35,000. The City found it necessary to ensure we were capable of coordinating our own departments along with any personnel who come from other agencies to assist with emergencies inside the city. We work closely with Lauderdale County and the State of Mississippi during emergencies to ensure as many needs as humanly possible are addressed during these emergencies. By having an emergency management office, we are also capable of ensuring that any plans or contracts that will be needed during an emergency are in place prior to an emergency occurring.

How does Meridian benefit from a local training facility?

Our training facility provides the best training available to our responders, regardless of their field of operations. We host courses taught by training facilities throughout the country and make them available to responders from agencies other than ours. The City of Meridian plays host to students and instructors from throughout the Southeast. These people stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, and enjoy shopping and entertainment while they are in our community.

Who trains at the training facility?

Some of the agencies, in addition to our City departments, who have trained at the facility are: Lauderdale County Sheriff and volunteer fire services; Metro Ambulance; Naval Air Station Meridian; Air National Guard from Key Field; Mississippi Department of Transportation; Mississippi Department of Health; Mississippi Highway Patrol; Mississippi Office of Homeland Security; Mississippi Emergency Management Agency; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Internal Revenue Service; Alabama Highway Patrol; fire and law enforcement personnel from nine counties near Lauderdale County; Anderson Regional Medical Center; Rush Foundation Hospital; Wackenhut; and Peavey Security Department.

What actions does the Department of Public Safety & Training recommend if I come in contact with a suspicious person?

Our first recommendation is, if you are uncomfortable with or suspicious of a person, never confront them yourself. Instead, if you feel that you are in immediate danger or that they will leave the area soon, call 911. Be prepared to give the dispatcher as much of their physical description as possible, a brief description of your suspicions along with the person's location, and your fears. You will also need to provide your name, address, and contact information to the dispatcher. If the person is not an immediate threat, you can report the activity online at: http://www.homelandsecurity.ms.gov/Pages/Suspicious-Activity.aspx

What should I do if I receive a suspicious package?

Please do not move the package. Contact 911, and provide them with information regarding your location and your suspicion. The dispatcher will then contact the proper agencies to come to you to take care of the package.

I have a gun. May I come and shoot it on the city range?

The City of Meridian has strict guidelines to protect everyone on our ranges. For this reason, we allow private citizens to shoot only at designated times of the year. Typically, we host a day or weekend in the spring for handgun usage, and one in the fall for rifle and shotgun usage.

Do you have to be a senior citizen to take classes at the Meridian Activity Center (formerly the Senior Citizens Center)?

No. This facility is an adult recreation center. Anyone 21 years of age or older is welcome to participate in classes there. In fact, we have changed the name of the center to the Meridian Activity Center to reflect the fact that programs are available for all ages.

Can I rent Planet Playground for parties?

We do not reserve the entire playground; however, you can reserve the picnic pavilion and use the playground along with the general public. The pavilion is great for parties and does include restrooms, which are also open to the general public.

Where do I register for softball, baseball, or soccer?

Most of the athletic leagues are run by volunteer organizations such as the Optimist Club, parent associations, etc. The Parks and Recreation Department serves as facilitator. Contact the Parks and Recreation Main Office, and we can get you the contact names for the persons actually running the programs.

When is the Dentzel Carousel open?

Carousel hours are tied to the school year. When school is not in session, the carousel is open seven days a week from 1 to 5 p.m. From August through October, it is open on Saturdays and Sundays only from 1 to 5 p.m. During the slow months from November through spring break in March, it is open on Saturdays only from 1 to 5 p.m. However, the carousel is open year-round for private parties and tours, if we get sufficient notice. The rental fees are $75 for 1½-hour parties and $150 for three-hour functions.

What is the walking distance around the walking track at Bonita Lakes Park?

The distance around the walking track is 1.19 miles.

How much does it cost to reserve a pavilion at Bonita Lakes Park?

The pavilions rent for $40, and if you need electricity it's an additional $25.

Is there any camping at Bonita Lakes Park?

There is no camping allowed at Bonita. The park hours are from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Why are City Hall and the Lauderdale County Courthouse not in the same building?

A lot of people think we are the same, but City Hall houses city offices such as the mayor's office, administrative offices, water collections, finance and city records, personnel, Civil Service and the Clerk of Council, while countywide functions such as taxes, courts, vehicle tags, and marriage licenses are handled at the Courthouse.

Is Finance & Records a finance company?

No. This is a common misconception. Finance & Records, among its many duties, handles the city's finances. We are not a finance company.

If I live in Lauderdale County outside of the city but work inside the city, can I vote in city elections?

No. People who do not live inside the city limits cannot vote in city elections no matter where they work. All voter cards have headings for both city and county elections. If the voter lives in the city, the card will tell him or her where to vote in city elections and where to vote in county elections. If the voter does not live inside the city, the "city" heading will have no information under it.

When may water deposits be refunded?

When a person moves out of the city and no longer needs to have a water deposit, Water Billing will do a final reading and send the customer a final bill in the mail. Either the customer will receive a refund check, or the final bill will indicate how much is owed over and above the deposit and that difference must be paid as a final payment.

When I get a letter from the City Clerk's office advising me of a check that has come back from the bank and giving me 15 days to pick it up, why does my water cut off before the 15 days are up?

This is because one has nothing to do with the other. The City Clerk's office must follow state law regarding bad checks, regardless of whether they involve water or any other service for which a check was written. Water Billing, however, has its own rules regarding how much time can elapse before water service is cut off due to non-payment.

What are the powers and duties of the Mayor and City Council?

The following are sections of the Mississippi Code setting out the general powers and duties of the mayor and city council in a mayor/council form of government.

 

§ 21-8-9. Council to exercise legislative power.

The legislative power of the municipality shall be exercised by the municipal council, except as may be otherwise provided by general law.

 

§ 21-8-13. General powers and duties of council.

(1) The council shall appoint a clerk of the council and deputy clerks, as necessary, who shall compile the minutes and records of its proceedings, its ordinances and resolutions as this chapter requires, and perform such duties as may be required by law.

(2) At the end of each fiscal year, the council shall cause a full and complete examination of all the books, accounts and vouchers of the municipality to be made by a competent, independent accountant or accountants who shall be appointed by the council, and the report of said examination shall be typed or printed in pamphlet form, including a detailed, itemized statement of all receipts and disbursements of the year and a summary of the proceedings of the council during the year. The council shall furnish a copy of said pamphlet, free of charge, to all persons who shall apply therefore at the office of the municipal clerk and shall cause three (3) of the printed copies of said pamphlet for each fiscal year to be substantially bound in three (3) volumes which shall be kept and preserved as a record of the clerk's office. Said pamphlets shall be published as now provided by law.

(3) If, at the beginning of the first term of office of the first city council elected by any municipality under the provisions of this chapter, the appropriations for the expenditures for the municipal government for the current fiscal year shall have been made, the council shall have power by ordinance, to revise, repeal or change said appropriations and to make additional appropriations.

(4) The council, in addition to such other powers and duties as may be conferred upon it by this chapter or otherwise by general law, may require any municipal officer, in its discretion, to prepare and submit sworn statements regarding his official duties, and otherwise to investigate the conduct of any department, office or agency of the municipal government.

 

§ 21-8-17. General powers and duties of mayor; approval of ordinances.

(1) The mayor shall enforce the charter and ordinances of the municipality and all general laws applicable thereto. He/she shall annually report to the council and the public on the work of the previous year and on the condition and requirements of the municipal government and shall, from time to time, make such recommendations for action by the council as he may deem in the public interest. He/she shall supervise all of the departments of the municipal government and shall require each department to make an annual report and such other reports of its work as he may deem desirable.

(2) Ordinances adopted by the council shall be submitted to the mayor and he shall, within ten (10) days (not including Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) after receiving any ordinance, either approve the ordinance by affixing his signature thereto or return it to the council by delivering it to the clerk of the council together with a statement setting forth his objections thereto or to any item or part thereof. No ordinance or any item or part thereof shall take effect without the mayor's approval, unless the mayor fails to return an ordinance to the council prior to the next council meeting, but no later than fifteen (15) days (not including Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) after it has been presented to him/her or unless the council upon reconsideration thereof not later than the tenth day (not including Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) following its return by the mayor, shall, by a vote of two-thirds (2/3) of the members present and voting resolve to override the mayor's veto.

(3) The mayor may attend meetings of the council and may take part in discussions of the council but shall not vote except in the case of a tie on the question of filling a vacancy in the council, in which case he/she may cast the deciding vote.

 

§ 21-8-27. Control of mayor and his subordinates by council.

The members of the council shall not direct or dictate the appointment of any person to or his removal from office by the mayor or any department directors. Except for the purposes of inquiring or receiving information or advice, the council shall deal with the municipal departments and personnel solely through the mayor and no member of the council shall give orders to any subordinate of the municipality. The council shall have the power to investigate any part of the municipal government and for that purpose to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of documents and other evidence.