By CARL SMITH
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors voted against District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer’s intent to seek a $5.7 million general obligation bond issuance for road repairs and paving projects during its Monday recess meeting.
This rejection marks the second time in recent meetings a bond intent issuance proposed by Trainer was defeated by the board.
Before the vote, Trainer opened discussion saying the special intent bond was scaled back from a recent $9.5 million proposal. With this bond, Trainer said the board could attempt to find funding for payments by looking within the county’s overall budget or by seeking special permission from the state Legislature to allow a millage rate increase from those districts wishing to participate in the issuance.
Since Oktibbeha County falls under a unit system of government, requests for district-specific projects of this nature need approval by state representatives.
“A special taxation assessment could be created in the (bond’s) language for millage adjustments for those participating districts,” Trainer said. “Look at what (Mississippi State University) has done with (commercial paper financing options). We want to get special legislation to tailor a deal. I know we’re in the eighth hour in some of our (road) projects.”
During discussion, District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson asked Trainer if he and District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams, who voted in favor of Trainer’s last bond intent motion at the previous meeting, could approach representatives on their own about seeking special legislation without having the board vote for the matter, but Trainer said it was best to first have supervisors’ approval.
Board President Marvell Howard again asked Trainer how funding for bond payments could be found in the county’s current budget structure as he did in a previous meeting.
“Each year we scratch our heads over our budget,” Howard said. “We’ve had to come up with a (smaller) budget each time just to continue operating.”
Trainer again broached the idea of sliding funding around to service a bond.
“That’s the only way I know to do it except for raising millage, and I think we’re going to need to (in the future) anyway,” Trainer said. “If we don’t raise the millage (as general operating costs increase), we’ll be in trouble. Nobody in this room thinks the millage is going to be the same forever.”
Board Attorney Jack Brown brought the discussion back to the potential legislation needed before a motion and vote was recorded. Brown said he believed a hybrid form of government which combined the unit system’s structure with the beat system’s flexibility would be needed for Trainer’s bond issuance. Howard then said state legislators typically pass special rules in instances which have a large impact on economic development. Trainer then countered saying road improvements would boost the county’s tax base.
“My concern is if we don’t do something, someone else will sit here (at the board table), ask for funding and we’ll approve it,” Williams said before the vote. “If we don’t spend the money the way we know it should be, someone else will ask for it.”
After discussion, a motion was made to issue the $5.7 million notice as a general obligation bond instead of a special intent bond since permission has not been obtained from the Legislature. Trainer and Williams voted in favor of the motion, while Howard, Jackson and District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery cast opposing votes.