The Copiah County Board of Supervisors voted to exempt ad valorem taxes for seven years for a proposed new development in the old Walmart building on Highway 28.
Representatives of Action Properties of Yazoo City outlined their plans to purchase the old Walmart building and renovate it to provide space for several smaller retail establishments. Before and after photos of past projects, such as one in Yazoo City, were presented to the board.
The group seeks the tax exemption under a state statute that allows it in business improvement districts.
“There are all kinds of state incentives for industrial [development] but this is one of the few programs for retail,” explained Henry Cody, vice president of development for Action.
The exemption will apply to the improvements only. The taxes currently being paid on the buildding will continue.
“This gives us a chance to remodel and get new businesses in and get off the ground before the increase in taxes kicks in,” said Kenneth Helton of Action. He pointed out that these potential tenants could locate anywhere. “All towns have a lot of empty buildings. This is an incentive to get them here.”
Annual payroll of about $600,000 is expected from about 35 new jobs, the board was told.
Economic development director Neil Honan pointed out to the board that the workforce in Copiah County is believed to be 12,120, according to the Mississippi Employment Security Commission. Copiah currently has an unemployment rate of 9.2%.
“I am excited about the opportunity to bring someone in with a track record of producing jobs,” said Honan.
The Action Properties representatives said the turnover date is October 1, but they are shooting for August. Four potential tenants have already expressed interest in Hazlehurst, but they declined to release names until the deals are finalized.
The board approved the exemption of ad valorem taxes for seven years, excluding school taxes and road and bridge taxes, in keeping with the county’s policy for granting industrial development exemptions.
Supervisor Perry Hood advised the board to create a policy requiring a minimum investment or renovation of a building empty for more than a year for those applying for this type of exemption in future.
RUBBISH PIT REJECTED
With little discussion, the board voted unanimously to reject the petition of Billy Traxler to amend the county’s solid waste policy to allow a Class 1 rubbish pit in an old gravel pit near Crystal Springs.
Board members remarked that the City of Crystal Springs should consider purchasing its own pit for disposal of limbs to ease its difficulties. A Class 1 pit can accept building materials, but if the city disposes of limbs only then a Class 1 permit will not be needed.
SUMMER JOB PROGRAM
Tonya Minor, manager of the Hazlehurst WIN Job Center, updated the board on a summer work program for youth which will be funded by the stimulus package.
Copiah County will get 91 slots to employ youth ages 16 to 24. Students in school can get applications at school, while out of school youth should contact the WIN Job Center.
To participate, youth must be low income and meet other qualifications.
The program will run from June 1 to July 31. For more information contact the WIN Job Center at 894-2121.
The board rescinded Monday’s order on a forfeited parcel. The board voided the tax sale and authorized a check to be cut to the person who bought the parcel in the tax sale.
Gravel work will be done on school bus turnarounds on Beasley Road at the request of the Copiah School District.
One bid was received for the courthouse generator from Austin Electric of Summit for $136,000, which is over budget. The bid was taken under advisement.
One bid for $35 was received for a surplus school bus at the sheriff’s department, which was rejected.
Ongoing problems with the t-hangar project at the airport were discussed. The board attorney will write a letter to the parties concerned asking them to attend the next board meeting.
Claims were approved totaling $1,967,249.33. County Administrator Ronnie Barlow advised that about $380,000 of the claims were above the usual monthly expenses.
The board recessed until Monday, April 20, at 9 a.m.