Board approves TIF bond by narrow margin, public hearing scheduled

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors narrowly approved a resolution regarding a Tax Increment Financing plan for new development in Poplarville.

After District I Supervisor Donald Hart made a motion to approve the matter, the Board approved the resolution and set a public hearing for Aug. 21 at 9 a.m. in the county Boardroom. Board President Sandy Kane Smith and District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry voted against it.

“We don’t know for sure they’re coming; they haven’t made a 100 percent commitment,” Perry said before the vote.

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But others had a different perspective.

“I think they’re as committed as anyone can ever get committed,” County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said, adding that the developer wants to begin construction in September.

The developer has also reached out to Pearl River Community College to develop training programs for future employees, Lumpkin said.

“I’ve been in this business for 25 years and I’ve never seen anyone as committed,” Tommy Breland, a local real estate broker, said. “There’s never been a project as good for the whole county.”

Lumpkin said he doesn’t consider the TIF plan to be a tax break. Instead, he said the development would pay its share of property and sales taxes. That money will then be used to retire a bond used to build public infrastructure such as sewer lines and sidewalks.

Lumpkin said TIF bonds are most successful in cities due to the sales tax rebates.

For example, District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller said a TIF bond is the reason there’s a Home Depot in Picayune.

After the vote, Perry said he voted against the measure because he wasn’t informed, adding that he didn’t know about the plan until it was put on the agenda.

Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said the TIF bond helps coordinate between the city, county and the developers so that utility lines can be placed and infrastructure installed easily.

“That’s better than tax incentive because you’re getting infrastructure,” Perry said.

Right now, the property is vacant and owned by the county, producing zero property or sales tax, Lumpkin said.

Smith didn’t elaborate on why he voted against the measure on Monday. But in a phone interview with the Item, Smith said he’s against the idea of a TIF as a whole.

“I know everything I need to now about it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to the other people in the community that have businesses.”

Smith said he voted against the TIF plan in Picayune when it was proposed, despite his close relationships with those involved.

“But I’m not against the project altogether, I just don’t agree with the TIF,” he said. “I just don’t feel right about them, it’s nothing personal.”


About Julia Arenstam

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