STARKVILLE — District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer Monday introduced yet another bond proposal to fix county roads and improve infrastructure. Like his last effort, it crashed by a 3-2 vote.
Trainer has been adamant since the beginning of the year that the county can finance the debt service on bonds by adjusting millage from line items in the current and future budgets. In two detailed proposals — both involving general obligation bonds — Trainer and supporter District 5 Supervisor Joe L. Williams have failed to sway the three other supervisors with a clear-cut plan that’s tax neutral over the lifetime of the bond.
Monday, Trainer suggested an appropriation bond, which would be contingent upon inclusion of the debt service payment in the county’s adopted budget. Such a bond would require special legislation and would go to a referendum. This method would also allow the possibility of increasing millage in individual districts to address particular areas.
Trainer’s last GO bond proposal was for $9.5 million over 12 years. Monday, he had scaled back proposals for $5.9 million, $5.7 million and $3.3 million, each with shorter time periods.
Trainer argued that an appropriation bond would give residents confidence the board wouldn’t raise taxes and requested the board pass a resolution of intent, which fell a vote short.
“You can take $3 million to leverage a $30 million bond,” said Trainer, noting the $5 million allocated to road repair. “You can take that money away and redistribute it wherever you want.”
Board President Marvell Howard again knocked Trainer’s proposal, which needed the steam of full board support to gain special legislation, Trainer said.
“Where do we take money from?” said Howard, who also questioned the reliance of future growth expanding the budget. “You said we could do it within existing cash flow … when we’re putting together the budget, that would be the time to say, ‘Here’s the money I’m talking about.'”
Williams, who was elected in November, feared the board’s reluctance to establish clear goals would hamstring its ability to make investments in the future.
“If we don’t spend money the way we know it should be spent, someone is going to come in here, sit in that chair (of guest speaker) and request something else,” Williams said.
Fred Allen, a business owner and certified accountant, criticized the board’s approval of tax increment financing support — subsidizing redevelopment for private businesses — of the lingering Cotton Mill project because Mississippi State University “doesn’t need a subsidy.” Allen also argued that the $8 million dedicated to Cotton Mill could have been used to develop the Sunset community — if it were leveraged correctly.
“(County Chancery Clerk Monica) Banks says the county has about $10 million in the bank to leverage,” Allen said. “All we’re asking you guys to do is balance the projects.”
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