April 2, 2019 11:30:30 AM
The Golden Triangle will have an additional $13.6 million to spend on a variety of projects, including more than $6 million for construction and Mississippi University for Women and $5 million for the Partnership School in Starkville.
"We didn't get everything we wanted, but we got a lot," said Rep. Jeff Smith (R-Columbus), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Through a combination of bond package funding and appropriations from the Department of Finance and Administration and Education, seven projects received funding in Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Clay counties.
The city of Columbus, which reportedly faces a $338,000 debt by the end of the fiscal year, will receive $450,000 as a reimbursement for its City Hall renovation as well as $500,000 for Phase 2 construction on the Sen. Terry Brown Amphitheater on The Island.
West Point will receive $500,000 for repairs to Churchill Road. Crawford will get $425,000, for repairs at the old Motley High School gym, which will serve as a community center, and Caledonia will get $50,000 for improvements at Ola J. Pickett Park.
"It was nice to see Crawford get something," Smith said. "It's the first time they've ever gotten anything."
Smith said the $6.6 million for The W will go to the construction of the new culinary facility on the east side of campus as well as demolition of Taylor Hall.
The $5 million designated to help complete the Partnership School will be funded from the Education and Finance/Administration budgets. The Partnership School is a collaboration between the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and Mississippi State University for a demonstration-style school for grades 6-7 that is under construction on MSU's campus.
Sen. Angela Turner-Ford (D-West Point) said she was especially pleased to get funding for the repairs on Churchill Road.
"It's really important with Peco Foods coming in," she said. "Those improvements have been needed for a long time."
Not every request made it though, however.
The city of Columbus had lobbied for an additional 1-percent tax to be added to the 2-percent restaurant sales tax that passed earlier in the session. That additional tax died in the Senate's Finance Committee, Smith said.
"The lieutenant governor double-referred it," Smith said. "It would have gotten through the local and private committees on both sides, but it got held up in finance, so it died in committee when the session ended."
Smith had hoped to get $1 million to alleviate flooding on College Street and 15th Street North in the state's bond package, but it was taken out when the bond package went to conference.
"There was about $10 million taken out, including that money," Smith said.
Even so, Smith said he still hopes the funds needed for that project may still arrive.
"The Department of Finance has $11 million it can use for those sorts of projects, plus there could be some money coming from the $6.6 million The W got for the culinary project," Smith said. "I'd say there's still a chance to city could get that money to fix that problem."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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