RIDGELAND - City officials were involved in an in-depth debate Tuesday night over the refinancing of two bond issues from 2007.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen ultimately voted 5-1 to hire Butler Snow and Government Consultants, Inc., to start research and draft documents to refinance certain maturities of the city's outstanding Series A and B bonds. Alderman Scott Jones was absent.

Alderman Chuck Gautier, the lone nay vote, said that he thinks the board can get a better deal, possibly with another firm. Either way, Gautier said he needs more information before he makes a decision. Gautier suggested that the board schedule a retreat to discuss the issue.

"I think it is a great time to refinance," he said. "Ridgeland gets a good bond rating and interest rates are favorable, but I think we can do better."

The resolution does not tie the board or the city to a deal with the firm, nor will they be required to pay for any services unless they decide to go ahead with the refinancing. One of the financial consultants called it a "kickoff resolution" giving them permission to do the research to produce hard numbers and an interest rate they could lock in for the city of Ridgeland.

Mayor Gene McGee said that he believes in "going home with who you took to the dance" and sees no reason for the board to not go with Butler Snow.

In other business, the board:

• Proposed architectural plans of a new Mugshots at the corner of Lake Harbour Drive and Harbour Pointe Crossing were approved Tuesday night.
Construction is still awhile off and the project still seeks approval of drainage and utility logistics, but the architectural review board and the Community Development and Public Works Department have signed off on the project stating that it met the criteria that they measure each project by.

• Gautier appointed Drew Malone, an attorney, to the municipal Zoning Board. Malone currently sits on the Community Awareness Committee and will maintain his position there until Gautier can appoint a replacement or he decides to stay on.

Gautier said he is the father of Adam Malone who helped build a special needs playground that doesn't look like a special needs playground at Freedom Ridge Park. He said he is well qualified to take this "love of the city type position."

• Jones, who was absent due to medical reasons, appointed Barbara Brown to the Beautification Committee as the representation from his ward.