Thursday, April 8, 2010
State OKs $8 million for overpass
By SUE WATSON
Monday was a day of thanksgiving at the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Consultant Gary Anderson and Sen. Bill Stone provided an update on projects approved during the legislative session, which took a 30-day recess while the state learns if it will get $187 million in federal monies for Medicaid.
Stone said the Legislature approved a bond bill for the construction of an overpass at Highway 72, connecting the highway to Rossville and the Norfolk Southern Memphis Intermodal Yard. The measure provides $8 million for the construction, which is believed will spur growth in Marshall County.
Authorization for a WIN Job Center serving Marshall and Benton counties and their municipalities was also sewn up, as well as some authorizations for bonds for the city of Holly Springs, Stone said.
“Other counties would have loved to have $8 million,” said Anderson, touting the hard work of supervisors, the local delegation and others.
There may be some additional bond money for infrastructure that will become available to counties, Anderson added.
A new tourism program was funded by the Legislature this year which included $4 million for Lee County to promote tourism for Elvis Presley, $150,000 for the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs and $2 million for a gateway of the blues museum in Tunica, Anderson said. Those areas that have not received tourism dollars can compete for monies statewide.
“We have to get our thinking hats out and sharpen our pencils to get more money for tourism,” Anderson said.
Other measures included a bill that was signed by the governor that says counties will not be liable for state inmate medical costs above those rates that would be paid by Medicaid. Anderson said he does not know who would pay for any costs not covered by the law.
A bill that affects the amount of revenues counties can collect in tax from Section 42 low-income housing (exemptions) failed to pass the Senate after a bill passed the House that would have removed the exemption. He said the bill died after the Senate tried to negotiate language in the bill that would have added protections to the property owners (landlords).
A project of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors to restore that revenue by stopping the tax break would mean an additional $400,000 in revenue to the county if the exemption were revoked, Anderson said.
“Our legislative delegation worked really hard,” Anderson said. “Looking back, it was a no, no, no type thing but six months later we have $8 million to move forward on.”
Bill Mobley, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, agreed, expressing much appreciation to the delegation and the board.
“I think you will see benefits next year real quick for the intersection on 72,” he said.
On the down side, Stone said a bill that would have authorized collections for 911 from cell phone and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) died, but he thinks the measure will be taken up again.
Anderson said the state budget received a 9.5 percent across-the-board cut, which included cuts in homestead exemption.
“In terms of the overall budget, state revenues were $33 million below projection in February but up $1.2 million over projection for March,” Anderson said.
The increase in revenue over projected is the first in 18 months, he said.
“Keep up the good work," said supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett, excusing himself to go to a funeral.
“I think we ought to be thanking these gentlemen, but they are thanking us,” supervisor George Zinn III said.
“In hard times, it is unheard of what we did,” added county administrator Larry Hall.
“When you have something good to sell, it is easy to sell,” Anderson said.
Next up were Ishmell Edwards with Rust College and Rev. Edward Moses with Asbury United Methodist Church, who were also in a grateful mood.
“The citizens are elated about your work, particularly in the WIN Center,” Moses said. “What we are really elated about is the new county administration building you are talking about and it has changed the climate in this county. It makes us feel like a part of the main stream of what’s going on from Tupelo to Memphis.”
Edwards presented a letter of thanks and an offer from Rust College president David Beckley to locate the new WIN Center in the northwest corner of the Mississippi Industrial College campus.
Edwards said locating the center there would boost the Holly Springs Main Street project as well as the Memphis Street and Martin Street revitalization projects.
In other business, the board of supervisors:
• motioned to send a resolution to the City of Holly Springs that would resolve a concern about zoning specifications for Tara Oaks Subdivision. The resolution would say the county would recommend following its zoning rulings on the entrance road to the subdivision and that the city would enforce regulations inside the subdivision. The resolution suggests the city use zoning rulings that predated requirements for curb and gutters. The area is essentially a residential estates type area, they said.
• discussed rights-of-way on county property that intersects with I-69. The documents are needed by the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
• considered a request for a permit to haul granular material for the construction of two new houses in the Wingo Road/Mt. Carmel Road area from a property on East Cox Road. Supervisor Keith Taylor said the 15,000 to 16,000 loads of sand would “destroy East Cox Road.”
• reviewed a report prepared by the county for roads receiving monies from State Aid. The report stressed the need to have residents remove brick mail boxes and those mail boxes that would be a hazard and liability to the county and state.
• heard a recommendation from attorney Kent Smith that the Bethlehem Church of the Lord Jesus Christ be permitted to act as its own contractor for the construction of a new school and church facility. Since the church is a private, nonprofit entity registered with the IRS, Smith said state statutes would not require a certified construction contractor to oversee the job. The church has construction experts in its congregation and would do much of the work itself and contract the rest out, he said. The proposed facility would be 47,000 square feet, he said.
• learned from circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter that the county needs to prepare for the Republican Primary June 1 by getting approval for some voting places that may be changed because the old places are no longer available. Two of those include the District 2 North Cayce poll at Shady Rest Motel and the polling place at Cornersville Store - two places that will not be available for the next election. Carpenter said the county needs to contact the U.S. Department of Justice regarding pre-clearance to make changes.
• heard from Chuck Thomas, chancery clerk, that there is a need to be careful with expenditures which would exceed the county’s cash balance. The claims docket for the end of March was $442,704. He said precautions are necessary because the county did not have a large beginning cash balance this fiscal year as in past years to act as a reserve for cash flow purposes.
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