Supervisors continue discussions of courthouse annexes

Published 7:00 am Friday, July 21, 2017

After meeting individually with Landry and Lewis architects, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors discussed the proposed construction of annexes at the county courthouse during an open meeting Wednesday morning.
District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry opened the discussion by saying he wanted to suspend all architecture work—and payments—until the Board could come to an agreement on cost.
“I would love to decide on a budget and quit paying architects to draw a bunch of things,” Perry said.
Conversely, Board Vice President Hudson Holliday, a supporter of the two-building option proposed recently, said the project should be driven by the needs of the county, not by cost.
“I just disagree that we ought to say we’re just going to spend this much money, regardless of the functionality of what were going to build,” Holliday said.
Continued discussion of the project focused on revenue and expenditure projections. While some of the supervisors claimed taxes would have to be raised eventually, others remained adamant that the county could afford the estimated $12 million in expenses.
District I Supervisor Donald Hart said he was “totally against” a single building located behind the existing courthouse.
Instead, Hart said no matter what is built it needs to be on either the south or north side of the courthouse for the sake of Poplarville.
“It needs to be on the front street; Poplarville needs it and it’s something Poplarville can be proud of,” Hart said.
Board members also disagreed on how large the building or buildings would need to be to accommodate projected growth in the county.
Perry said the offices of the Pearl River County Tax Assessor and Collector and E-911 currently occupy 6,000 square feet. The original annex proposal allots those offices 12,000 square feet, he said.
Even though E-911 is not using the space they have now and Pearl River County Tax Assessor Gary Beech has requested more room, Perry questioned whether the offices need double the space.
Holliday and Hart rebutted, saying the county has to be prepared for current and future growth.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” Holliday said, quoting Proverbs 29:18.
Holliday said Beech projected a two percent growth in the county this year.
“You keep saying the county is going broke, but it ain’t,” he said.
Holliday went on to say that if the county did have to raise taxes, it could be as little as half a mill, since one mill could generate about $364,000 next year.
District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller said he was encouraged by the plan to construct one building instead of two.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the architecture firm estimated the cost for one three-story building on the south end to be roughly $8.4 million, or $8.1 million on the north lot.
However, building a three-story facility on the north end would require further approval from the Mississippi Department of Archives and Histories because it would be the same height as the existing courthouse, Lumpkin said.
“Before, this project faded away and I don’t think that’s going to happen again,” Board President Sandy Kane Smith said. “But what are we going to narrow it down to?”
Smith and Perry expressed disapproval of the plan to construct two buildings, while Holliday maintained his stance in support of the larger option.
The Board took no action on the matter.
The Board will meet again on August 7 at 9 a.m.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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