Thursday, February 9, 2006

Marshall County adds federal home program
• January tax collections set record

Staff Writer

Some elderly and low-income residents in Marshall County, who are eligible, may get to replace their dilapidated old houses with new homes at no cost.

The board of supervisors passed motions Monday to get the federal block grant home building program in Marshall County at no cost to tax payers locally.

The old homes are razed and a new one is built on the old site under what is called a “footprint replacement.” The size of the new home is contingent on the number of people living in the house at the time of application and can be two bedrooms and one bath, up to four bedrooms and two baths.

The Housing and Urban Development money funded through the Mississippi Development Authority has strict guidelines for eligibility and rating of applications, according to Bill Coker, with Coker Consultants, who recently completed three new homes in Lafayette County. Two of the homes are located on Highway 7 South just past the Tallahatchie River bridge.

To be eligible to apply for a new home grant, the homeowner must live in their old house or mobile home, have title to their property, be able to live elsewhere while the old home is destroyed and the new one is built, and meet the low-income requirements.

Homeowners or their heirs must agree to keep the home and not sell or rent it out for 10 years. If they do, the proceeds from the sale go back to the county to redistribute into other programs, Coker said.

Sites are sought where substandard housing exists, he said. Coker will locate the qualified sites and supervisors have no direct input in to which district or location is picked for the first new homes.

Tax collections strong

In other business, tax collector Betty Byrd reported record tax collections for the month of January 2006 with $6.6 million coming in.

“It is the biggest collection in the history of Marshall County,” she said.

The breakdown shows the collector’s office handled 10,285 transactions in January, averaging 514 transactions and $332,000 per day. Of the total, $4.4 million is money that stays in Marshall County, Byrd said.

Legislative news

Board consultant Gary Anderson reported on legislative matters and said revenues and appropriations bills are on the table for action until February 22.

Low-income housing owners tax break legislation is still alive in the House of Representatives, he said. Anderson is still working along with Rep. Kelvin Buck to find funding for an alcohol and drug recovery facility for Marshall County. Anderson asked for, and the board approved, a resolution expressing interest in the A & D Recovery facility.

Insurance proposal

The board heard a proposal by representatives with Guardian insurance, seeking approval to sell vision insurance in exchange for the representatives setting up a cafeteria plan for the county. The plan is allowed by the IRS as a pretax accounting procedure where most insurance premium payments are deducted from an employee’s gross pay before taxes are computed. The Cafeteria Plan enables many employees to bring home bigger checks and the employer to save money, too. The board approved the arrangement with Guardian following a motion by supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett.

Free spay clinic

Representatives with Marshall County Humane Society met with the board to announce a free spay/neuter clinic for low-income pet owners set for February 18-19. Spay/neutering of 80 animals, to include 30 female dogs, is planned.

To qualify for the free services, pet owners must have proof of income. Only those with annual incomes below $15,000 are eligible. For further information call 1-662-838-6753. There are still a few slots unscheduled and the Society will enroll backups clients in case some owners with appointments do not show up.

The spay/neutering work is will be done by Rural Area Veterinarian Services and students training to become veterinarians.

Industrial development news

Del Stover reported on Marshall County Industrial Authority business. He said a four-way stop has been approved at Cayce Road and Highway 302 and a red light at Highway 72 and Cayce Road. Supervisors discussed the need for signage on Goodman to direct truck drivers to the new Exel facility on Wingo Road.

A predesign meeting is scheduled for engineering of Mt. Carmel Road construction. County Administrator Larry Hall reported that not much work is left in clearing and grubbing on Mt. Carmel Road to get it ready for widening and paving.

Stover reported the airport has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval for $171,000 to fence the west side of the airport and clear trees from the south end. Mississippi Department of Transportation and IDA will pay the 10 percent match in equal shares as in past arrangements, Stover said.

The runway lighting and landing lights are about to be installed. And IDA and the airport authority are submitting another grant application to FAA for new projects, which Stover said would continue to be awarded to the tune of $150,000 annually as long as projects are getting done.

Stover notified supervisors that IDA has nine good prospects looking at sites in Byhalia, Holly Springs and Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park. The sewer project at Chickasaw is laid and ready to put into operation, he said.

Other business

In other business, Hall asked for, and the board approved, a payment of $21,499 to the contractor to close out the books on the museum restoration project. Supervisors approved a board order for county workers to divert water to correct drainage problems at Mary Lane.

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