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(From left) David Beckley, Mayor Kelvin Buck and Bill Stone review features of the fire protection plan created for the City of Holly Springs’ possible annexation of certain areas.

City clarifies goals

Holly Springs city officials, during a recessed meeting, delved into some of the specific goals of the administration.

In prefacing remarks, mayor Kelvin Buck said the meeting’s focus was to stay on target with the city’s Main Street plan created in charettes begun in August of 2008. The city also has a 20-year plan prepared by an urban planner several years ago.

One goal looks at capital expenditures related to the plan.

“The goal is to find ways to finance without raising anybody’s taxes,” Buck said. “At the end of the day, if we don’t have the money, we don’t do it.”

In the plan is a forward look at the desired future of the city, how it will grow and the quality of life.

Buck said Holly Springs elected officials can make conservative decisions but the city does not have to stick to all the dreams in the plan if there is not a way to pay for it.

“We are not spending any money we don’t have,” he said. “We have had five straight balanced budgets and have built some reserves.”

Included in the plan is to work with partners such as the Holly Springs Tourism and Recreation Bureau and the Main Street Chamber as well as with the legislative leadership in Jackson.

The meeting was information-oriented, he said.

First off, the city has signed a contract with McCullum Strategies LLC to help stay abreast of opportunities in the Legislature.

A fiscal review of capital projects, including a proposed Aquatics/Wellness Center and a second fire station, and the current financial outlook, was reported by city clerk Belinda Sims Hollowell. Butler/Snow’s financial planner, Tray Hairston, discussed financing of projects. The report by Hairston suggests possible ways of generating additional revenue.

City clerk report

Hollowell reported that current debt on the police bond this year comes to about $218,668. The city will pay that bill in March and the second annual installment of $22,450 in September.

A TIF (tax increment financing) bond has been paid in full. The balances to be paid off in 2018 came to about $28,000.

A street bond is paid twice a year totalling $138,043, she said. The first payment due in January of $16,593 has been paid. The next payment, due in July this year is $121,450.

The city’s tourism dollars stand at $362,255.

A Hill Crest Cemetery fund to clean and repair headstones has a balance of $203,713 remaining. Sims School (insurance) fund has about $22,255 on hand.

The city has $1,107,378 in certificates of deposit.

The city owes $150,000 this year on a payment for the Economic Development Highway, the Holly Springs Commons project that goes to Williams Medical Clinic. And two fire trucks are leased with a payment due in April of $41,789 on Truck 1 that will be paid off in 2028. A Truck 2 payment of $8,724 is due in February and in August, with the final payment in 2022.

The city owes $22,957 for the last payment on tornado sirens, due in April.

The city’s medical insurance is up for renewal in February and the commercial insurance will be up for renewal in March.

A payment of $164,956 to the Mississippi liability insurance was paid in January 2019.

Workman’s comp insurance totals of $243,600 were paid in October 2018.

Mayor Buck said the city has everything covered and sits on a reserve. Most of the city’s big bills for the year are already paid.

“That’s about as transparent as you can get,” he said. “We got everything out of the way first.

Payroll is the biggest expense, he said.

Salaries and fringe benefits budgeted for this fiscal year come to about $2.7 million.

Financing

Hairston reviewed common types of bonds – general obligation (G.O. bonds) bonds that allow for capital improvements in cities and revenue bonds that will be paid off by services rendered and lesser known sources of money.

An example is the $3 million revenue bond that was raised to build the Ashland Substation. The monies to pay off that bond will come from electricity department revenues.

G.O. bonds typically mature in 20 years, Hairston said. Revenue bonds paid off by water, sewer, electric, and wastes fees, go out 30 years.

The Mississippi Development Bank enhances the city’s credit and the city can get cheaper money as long as its credit rating is good.

TIFs (tax increment financing) bonds are created as TIF district bonds that are secured by anticipated increases on property value and sales taxes that follow capital investments.

Public transactions have to be published prior to approval of bonds.

“Here are our options when it comes down to money and borrowing,” Buck said.

Nnamdi Thompson reviewed the debt financing by the city:

• In 2012 the city refinanced some old debt totalling $2.125 million. Refinancing is done by municipalities to get cheaper interest rates and save money.

• In 1980, 1996, 1999, and 2003, the city refinanced $1.6 million of outstanding debt that will be paid off by 2032.

Thompson said state law requires that a refinancing of debt has to save the municipal government at minimum 2 percent or it cannot be refinanced.

• In 2015 a G.O. bond of $1.5 million was taken out.

• In 2017, the city refinanced a G.O. bond of $2.2 million.

Thompson said the city could take out up to $3.4 million before it would max out its ceiling on G.O. debt. As they are paid off, the maximum bonding allowed increases, he said.

The city holds a street bond debt of $1.5 million for road repair. HSUD owes $3 million borrowed for substation construction and other improvements to the electric system.

Utilities cannot be borrowed against, Thompson said, to pay for (general) city improvements.

Buck capped it off by saying, “We know what we can and cannot do. We will not raise taxes for capital projects.”

Rep. John Faulkner reported on three projects the city wants – a Health and Wellness Center, the restoration of the old light and waterhouse building and money for infrastructure extension from Old Highway 178 westward. Three bills have been drafted and Faulkner said he hopes to get these included in the Legislative bond blll. The city has requested $7.8 million – $4 million for the Health and Wellness Center, $600,000 for renovation of the waterhouse, and $3 million for the infrastructure extension on Old Highway 178.

Buck said he expects the city to get some money for both the waterhouse and aquatics center.

The tourism bureau will partner with the city, Buck said.

The entities, Tourism and the Main Street Chamber, could possibly lease the waterhouse building for $1 and they would agree to keep the structure up.

Tourism director Tyrisha Battle said everyone would benefit from a partnership and all she would want is that the partnership be inclusive.

“I am excited about job creation,” Battle said. “We could just move forward together.”

Buck said the waterhouse building could also be used as a rest stop for visitors and a blues museum.

Alderman Tim Liddy noted there is plenty of room and proximity to the park at the waterhouse.

A blues museum would give visitors something to do, Battle said.

Faulkner said the three proposed bills would be inserted into the Legislative bond bill and that he expects the city to get a share this round.

Sims School renovation will be pushed by former alderman Russell Johnson, Buck said.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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