County continues focus on housing
Consultant Gary Anderson recently reported to the board of supervisors on the county’s housing study. He said housing prices are rising in the state and on the national level.
Average houses are running $226,000 in the general market and in Mississippi the average cost of a home is $188,900, he said.
In DeSoto County, prices for construction are running $100 per square foot, according to Anderson.
There is a need for more affordable housing in Marshall County, he said.
Anderson said the next step in the county’s strategy to increase conventional housing in the county is to go to the industrial parks and see if employees who work there are interested in purchasing a home in the county.
The new Marshall County Workforce Training Center could be an ideal spot to gather with employees to discuss their interests, he told the board of supervisors.
“It is a good time to look for people to buy houses in Marshall County who are employed here,” Anderson said.
Affordable housing with a 30-year mortgage is running in the neighborhood of $90,000 to $140,000, he said. He suggested the county meet with developers to see what their positions are now since new corporations have moved here.
Anderson said he talked with school officials who reported there were five or six staff members interested in living in the county but could not find housing and so the teachers went to apartments in Olive Branch (DeSoto County).
“We need to have houses already built,” said District 1 supervisor Charles Terry.
Zoning director Ken Jones said there are no new, vacant houses ready to move into right now.
“I talked to one developer who went to DeSoto County and came back to build one house in Moore Plantation subdivision and ended up selling eight,” Jones said.
Anderson said the county has never nailed down what incentives it would offer developers, such as not increasing taxes on unsold lots in subdivisions until they have a structure on them.
Board attorney Kent Smith said it is at the discretion of the board of supervisors when to increase taxes on subdivision lots that are still empty.
“There is improvement but still it is raw land,” he said. “Those (subdivision) roads are dedicated, so why are you assessing value based on a road?”
Smith said he believes the power to decide when to increase the value rests with the board of supervisors.
“The board of supervisors may have discretion to not tax on land until a house is completed and ready for occupancy,” Terry said. “They can leave some things unfinished until the house is ready to sell.”
District 4 supervisor George Zinn III said he was prepared to make a motion, and District 3 supervisor Keith Taylor said he was prepared to second the motion once the wording is in place, to not increase taxes on unsold lots until someone has built a house on them.
Terry said the county would not lose any tax revenue by waiting.
In other business, Jones reported that the U.S. Postal Service is now requiring that all new subdivisions have a central mailbox facility. And licensed contractors will now have to be used when construction of a commercial or residential building is valued at over $10,000. This includes a commercial building, rental buildings or a house to sell.
Developers cannot build a duplex or a multi-family dwelling without a licensed contractor, he said.
Both the mailbox requirement and the contractor licensing are new state regulations, he said.
Bids were opened for a bridge construction on Loftin Road. State engineers estimated the construction cost to be about $303,576, said county engineer Larry Britt.
Bids were as follows: Steve Billingsley Dozer & Grading, Waterford, $236,533; M&N Excavators, Oxford, $261,219; Hall’s Construction Company, New Albany, $287,900; A&B Construction, Thaxton, $370,468; Townes Construction, Grenada, $314,751; and Colom Construction, Ripley, $325,129.
Supervisors awarded the contract to low bidder, Steve Billingsly Dozer & Grading.
Turning lane needed
District 2 supervisor Eddie Dixon said there is an urgent need for a turning light and lane at H.W. Byers School. He asked that Mitch Turner with the Mississippi Department of Transportation be asked about a turning lane and light.
Taylor echoed Dixon’s remark, saying there needs to be a turning lane and light at Byhalia Elementary.
“The state is not taking into account how much traffic is on these roads with all this growth,” Taylor said.
Chancery clerk’s report
Chuck Thomas, chancery clerk, reported the annual contract for mapping services from Technical Service Industries for $14,400 is due.
The board approved that expenditure and other actions which included:
• charges for inmate meals for two weeks at 1,621 meals at $2,577 and 1,692 meals at $2,690.
• a request from Hugh Hollowell to distribute State Fire Service Round 10 for a fire truck. The board also approved travel for Ron Rhea to go to training in Pearl. The balance for the Fire Levy Fund was approved for distribution to the rural fire department. Hollowell was approved for travel to the Mid-Winter Conference in November.
Workforce Training Center
County administrator Larry Hall requested an expenditure of $1,724 for installation of Wi-Fi at the Workforce Training Center.
He supplied two quotes for cameras at the center - $6,486 from ADI and $6,109 from B&H. The board approved the quote from B&H.
The board approved expenditures of $7,359 payable to Belinda Stewart Architects for design, bidding, and print expenses and mileage.