April 18, 2017 10:51:00 AM
Oktibbeha County is close to finalizing a 15-year, $14.5 million-maximum road bond for Blackjack Road and other countywide infrastructure projects and should have the funding in about 30 days.
Supervisors picked Regions Bank Monday as the bond's financier after it submitted the lowest interest rate -- 2.4 percent -- and beat Trustmark Bank's 2.99 percent offer.
Butler Snow attorney Sam Keyes, who advises the county on bond packages, said it will take about 30 days for his firm and the county to get through the validation process -- a procedural time period of paperwork and other document filings -- and the county will receive the funding shortly after.
Approximately $4.5 million of the bond will go toward improving Blackjack Road, while the remaining $10 million will be divided between the five districts based on road mileage.
That division created turmoil between board members after District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard accused those supporting the divvy -- District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer, District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller and District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams -- of pulling a "bait-and-switch" by first offering to explore alternative means of splitting the money.
Both Howard and District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery opposed Monday's action naming Regions as the bond's financier.
Districts 1 and 3 have the lowest road mileage in Oktibbeha County -- 19 percent and 12 percent, respectively -- while District 4 (25 percent), District 2 (22 percent) and District 5 (22 percent) are at the top of the list. District 4 (30 percent) and District 1 (26 percent), however, combine for more than half of Oktibbeha County's assessed value, District 3 and District 5 both represent 15 percent of that total and District 2 rounds off the list at 13 percent.
An equal, 20-percent division would have given each district supervisor $2 million. For Montgomery, a formula based off assessment would have given his district $2.6 million, while the road mileage formula's 19 percent divvy would only provide $1.9 million for District 1 improvement projects.
A 12 percent share of county roads in District 3 means Howard will only receive $1.2 million, while the other three districts, excluding Montgomery's, would all receive more than $2 million each.
A $14.5 million issuance is likely to require a 2.4-mill tax increase for debt service. That figure could be reduced to 1.4 mills if a previous hike for maintenance is applied to the bond, but Trainer previously said he would prefer to keep the allocation on as is.
Supervisors are still working on a list of district-specific projects to tackle with bond proceeds. A process to bid out those projects is expected shortly after the county receives its money.
While supervisors did not present any project lists Monday, Both Howard and Miller previously identified potential candidates for improvement projects within their districts. Those projects include Buntin Drive, Maben's Roosevelt Street and the east end of Harold Road in District 3 and Adkinson Drive and portions of Big Creek and Pleasant Ridge roads and South Montgomery Street in District 4.
Montgomery, Trainer and Williams previously said they were continuing to assess the needs in their respective districts.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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