City Council meeting announcment timing appears short

Published 11:56 pm Saturday, July 8, 2006

The Picayune City Council turned what had been advertised for about three weeks as a hearing into a meeting Thursday, with very little notice given that it would be taking action on the matter discussed during the hearing, which concerned a North Picayune Public Improvement District for property owned by developer Carle Cooper
According to the Mississippi Open Meetings Act, a recessed meeting must be posted one hour after it is called, or set. The hearing held Thursday night was set Wednesday night after the council’s executive session and had a posting of it’s time, place and function Thursday after lunch, said interim city manager Diane Miller. The Picayune Item did not receive notice of this recessed meeting until 5:27 p.m. Thursday via fax, according to the time printed on the fax. The meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m.
The hearing concerned development of residential property owned by Cooper, Cooper said. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Picayune City Council adopted an ordinance establishing the North Picayune Public Improvement District, Miller said. A meeting is an assembly of public body members where official acts are taken upon a matter that the public body has control over, according to the Mississippi Open Meetings Act.
The development is slated to be constructed off of U.S. 11 in the area between the borders of the Woods and Millbrook Subdivisions, Cooper said.
Cooper said that once the development is complete, there will be a five-member board of directors for the district, with one member from outside the district and another from the city as an employee or official. Cooper said he is excluded from participating in the board because he is the developer.
A Public Improvement District will help finance installation of the infrastructure of the new residential development, said City Attorney Nathan Farmer.
This practice helps developers put infrastructure in place with the costs of repaying the bonds assessed as part of the prices of houses sold only in the development, Farmer said. These assessments help the developer retire bonds incurred by the installation of infrastructure, Farmer said.
“It’s just another way of borrowing money,” Farmer said.
Once the infrastructure is established, it is donated to the city at which time the city takes over the maintenance, Farmer said.
“In a development, those are some of your main cost outlays — streets and infrastructure,” Farmer said.

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