March 6, 2008
Renick updates board on airport work, I-69
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors heard reports Monday as part of its monthly business meeting.
Some projects await decisions by the state Legislature while others are continuations of ones already in the works.
Bill Renick, executive director of the Industrial Development Authority (IDA), reported on IDA and airport work.
Two or three new prospects are getting some looks in the area of economic development and others are active, he said.
Engineers just completed a survey of the sewer system needs at Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park, he said, then he will look for money to pay for the project expected to cost $1.4 million. But the project could get started in summer or early fall and will be completed in 2009.
A five-year plan for the Holly Springs airport is completed and awaits approval by the airport commission, he said. The plan calls for extension of the runway by 900 feet and the length afterward will be around 4,000 to 4,100 feet. No further lengthening will be possible unless more land is purchased, he said.
Some work winding down at the airport includes finishing of tie-downs for airplane rent space and the rehabilitation of the hangar which will provide space for several more airplanes. The project will be paid for out of rent fees.
Several existing buildings are getting some looks from companies looking for industrial space, he said. The GEM building in Byhalia is up for lease, as well as the old Holly Springs plastics building.
IDA’s immediate concern is to get about $1 million in funding put together for the widening of Stonewall Road in Byhalia. Applications for funding will go through the mayor and board of aldermen in Byhalia, but some other improvements in the area will come up before the board of supervisors, he said.
Relocation of I-69
Renick said the Mississippi Department of Transportation is looking at possibly moving the route for I-69 a little as it approaches and moves by Byhalia.
It is possible that an entire mobile home park consisting of 66 lots will be moved and the homeowners’ trailers relocated or purchased as well as the park owner’s property, he said.
If MDOT decides to build in that direction, the agency will be responsible for helping mobile home owners relocate within Marshall County, he said. The homes will have to be moved to a place that has public sewer and water service.
Some county roads like Dogwood Road, are likely to be affected by the new highway.
Renick said Wingo Road in the Chickasaw Trails Industrial Park would not be in the path of I-69 - if it were the property values would be destroyed because of existing favorable traffic routes. The highway is likely going west of the Mid-South Ag site, he said.
Supervisor Keith Taylor advised that engineers are already marking the route for I-69 near Byhalia. If I-69 goes around Standard Construction Company’s land in the area then lots of other areas will be affected, he said. Standard Construction has been located in the area about three years, he added.
Lobbyist Gary Anderson brought the board up to date on activities in the Mississippi Legislature that affect Marshall County.
The February 19 deadline for bills to get out of committee or die passed with lots of bills moribund. About 700 bills are still alive in the House of Representatives, he said.
The revenue picture is in the spotlight with agencies being asked to cut budgets. He said Mississippi Department of Corrections was asked to cut costs of operations which included options to shorten time for non-violent offenders.
In the medical area the House and Senate have proposed ways to pay for Medicaid. The House passed a bill for a $1 a pack tax increase on cigarettes. The Senate has passed a bill to raise revenue through fees. The bills go to conference in late March.
“This has lots of indications for how we address health care in the state and mental health,” Anderson said.
The deadline for the bond bill to exit the Ways and Means Committee is March 12.
Anderson said the governor has stated he wants no new bonds passed but some executive directors are asking for bonding authority.
“The Mississippi Development Authority is asking for significant bonding authority as well as several other entities falling under the governor,” he said.
A department of transportation bill being fashioned for highway construction includes a portion that goes before Ways and Means, he said.
“I know it will be pared down,” he said.
Supervisors expressed concern that several million dollars requested to finish the North Holly Springs Highway 4 bypass could be looked over. Waiting means paying more for the project because asphalt and petroleum products are steadily rising.
“The longer it sits there the more it is going to cost,” said Ronnie Joe Bennett.
“It’s a challenging year for bonds,” Anderson said. “We want to get what we can to finish this project.”
He said SB 2911 passed by the Senate includes legislation that would de-obligate some projects passed in prior years.
Included in projects that may be cut off is the bond for a crisis center in Marshall County and about $10 million in State-Aid road projects and planning and development district projects.
“About $70 million the Senate wants to de-obligate affects Marshall County,” Anderson said, adding, “The House will not stand for it.”
He said the Senate targeted bond bills passed by the House for the eraser.
George Zinn III asked if State Aid money approved for Marshall County projects could be lost.
County administrator Larry Hall explained that the Local System Bridge Program money was up for grabs is if is not spent in 18 months.
“If they (counties) don’t spend it in 18 months, then after another 18 months the agency would redistribute it,” he said.
He said the House has already approved its LSBP requests.
Anderson said he would check to see if the Senate’s version of LSBP has passed.
“We want them to pass it because we are going to spend ours,” said Hall.
Zinn asked about the cigarette tax the House wants and the “hospital tax” the Senate wants.
“That just means higher costs (for services),” he said.
Anderson said the Senate version would budget $45 million in revenues to be collected from hospitals and the additional fees to capture the $70 million shortfall would come from increases in fees like the cost of a driver’s license.
“But the Medicaid gap, the hole in the budget, is larger than that,” he said. “So you may see a cigarette tax enacted along with this measure.”
He said the governor does not favor any tax increases but refers to the ‘hospital tax’ as a fee.
“A participation fee,” said Hall.
“Whomever uses it will pay for it,” Anderson said.
Pressed for information about tobacco lobbyists, Anderson said on any given day five or six tobacco lobbyists are in the capitol.
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