By CARL SMITH
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors will again hold a public discussion on the CottonMill development project tax increment financing (TIF) agreement Monday at 10 a.m. after a previous forum was postponed until developers could participate in person.
Board President Marvell Howard said Monday’s scheduled discussion on the matter should not be confused with a hearing since the previous board passed the agreement during its previous term. No official action is needed by the board following Monday’s meeting, he said.
In the board’s March 5 meeting, the board and many public speakers noted the absence of project developers. Howard said a communication error led to the absence. County officials said a development representative and a lawyer from Butler Snow will attend tomorrow’s meeting.
The TIF agreement would provide developers $8.5 million for infrastructure improvements over 15 years In the agreement, the county will waive 95 percent of the development’s ad valorem taxes while school taxes would remain untouched.
While county officials said the agreement and project would increase jobs and property values to the county tax records, concerned citizens in the previous meeting called the TIF a tax increase and said the area it impacts — a portion of land on Highway 12 near the entrance to Mississippi State University — is prime real estate and does not meet the blighted quality a TIF is supposed to improve.
Almost $12 million in state and federal grants for Starkville infrastructure improvements are tied to the project, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said after the previous meeting.
“I know people have a lot of questions in general about the project,” Howard said. “We’ll be able to get those questions answered as far as what will be done with the TIF funding from the county and the city.”
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said he believes there is no major board opposition to the project. Trainer was absent from the previous meeting.
“We just need to sit down and make sure the right people are there to answer the questions we need answered,” Trainer said. “I like to support thinking outside of the box, and (the TIF) definitely qualifies.”
The board will also open bids for a new asphalt distributor truck to be used by county road crews. County Road Manager Victor Collins presented Oktibbeha’s four-year road plan to supervisors during the previous meeting, and the report stated the new truck was the only major need for his department.
“We do need a new asphalt distributor truck to spray the CRS2 liquid asphalt,” Collins said earlier in the month. “We’ve got a few other equipment needs, but it’s not as bad of a need as with that distributor.”
In other board business, supervisors will hear a presentation on Agenda 21, the United Nation’s comprehensive plan pertaining to environmental impact, city developments and growth, from Gary Chesser.
A resolution passed by the Republican National Committee in its winter meeting called the U.N. measure “a comprehensive plan of extreme environmentalism, social engineering and global political control …” and said local U.S. agencies are covertly pushing the item into communities through sustainable development policies.
Chesser said Agenda 21 has drawn harsh criticism from the entire political spectrum and he only wishes to inform the board of the measure and how it pertains to Oktibbeha County.