Council approves TIF plan, up to developer to follow up
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 8, 2015
The Picayune City Council approved the proposed Tax Increment Financing plan to build infrastructure for a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Picayune just a day after the county agreed to move forward with the plan.
Tuesday, the council held a public hearing in their chambers at City Hall to allow residents to voice their opinions about the TIF plan. The city and county each held a mandatory public hearing regarding the TIF draft, which was made available to residents on the city’s website.
Urban Development Toolbox representative Laurence Leyens said his proposal is for the development of 276 acres of land near Highland Community Hospital. The TIF plan would partially reimburse local developer Andy Cooper for his expense in the construction of infrastructure to prepare the area for a Walmart Neighborhood Market and other planned development.
There are many phases Cooper has planned, including the establishment of a road and infrastructure. The estimated cost for the first phase would be around $1.9 million to $2.5 million, of which Cooper will be reimbursed at least half. There are plans to build residential and commercial areas around the market in the second phase, bringing the total to $6.5 million.
Leyens said the city and county aren’t obligated to move forward with the TIF plan.
“We just asked them to adopt the authorization of the document itself. There’s no obligation if the city or county approves or authorizes the TIF plan, they’re just making it possible,” Leyens said.
Since both agencies agreed to move forward with the plan, the city would eventually take out a bond, without using their good faith credit, which would be paid for using only increases in sales and ad valorem tax generated by the new business and subsequent developments, if all goes as planned.
Leyens said a bond would be secured if the building was complete and tax money was generated. If for some reason the building isn’t constructed or the project doesn’t move forward, a bond wouldn’t be taken out. If completed, the bond will last up to 15 years and would cap at seven percent interest.
Cooper must meet the city’s infrastructure specifications in order for the project to move forward, Leyens said.
Leyens said this project isn’t about the Walmart Neighborhood Market but about the impact it would have towards economic development.
“Walmart is an economic generator and generates 6,000 cars in a single location. There will be overlap with other businesses, but it won’t take business away from others,” Leyens said.
He said the market will allow other developments to occur, which would promote job creation and raise wages.
County resident Fay Davis said she wants the city to grow but has reservations about whether the roadways can support the traffic that the development would generate.
“My concern is Highway 11. If you drive down Highway 11 at 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. it’s backed up all the way both north and south. If they put a WalMart Neighborhood Market there where are all these cars going to go when the roadways are already congested?” Davis asked.
Many residents spoke about the need for economic development but weren’t sure if the TIF bond was the way to go.
“I think there’s a lot of unanswered questions and we have to look at the financial stability and what benefits we’re going to derive out of this and what we’re going to pay in the future,” county resident Frank Egger said.
Highland Community Hospital Administrator Mark Stockstill said the TIF bond is a great opportunity for the city.
“If you look at other communities around us that take that leap and use TIF bonds you can see the success that has come out of it,” Stockstill said.
Leyens said Walmart will act as a funding tool, which would lead to economic development in the city.
After the public hearing was closed, the council approved the resolution. Council members Tammy Valente, Lynn Bogan Bumpers, Larry Breland, Janice Miller Stevens and Mayor Ed Pinero approved that motion, while Wayne Gouguet opposed.
All members of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors approved the resolution on Monday, except Sandy Kane Smith.
The next council meeting will be July 21 at 5 p.m.