I should have known there was another bond issue on the way when two of the three “usual suspects” showed up at the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors meeting Nov. 20.

First, board attorney Rick Barry made his second appearance of the year, and there was, also, Sam Keyes, of Butler Snow.

Only Demery Grubbs of Government Consultants was missing, but Mr. Keyes did mention him in his presentation just in case anyone was concerned that he wasn’t there.

Obviously there was another bond issue payday coming for the group but it surprised me when this ruse was something so small as a refinance of the 2012 $10 million bond issue — of which only $6.7 million is still unpaid.

It would be hard to milk more than about $150,000 from county taxpayers without exceeding the 2 percent considered “acceptable.” I suppose the huge $2 million plus big hit they scored in fees in 2012 and 2013, has run out and this is their best shot.

“We didn’t get our usual $10 million bond issue at the beginning of our new term” is the lament we have heard from three of our Lauderdale County Supervisors several time this year.

Josh Todd and Joe Norwood have demonstrated why they miss that quadrennial slush fund Mr. Barry has convinced them they are entitled to and they’ve convinced Jonathan Wells.

Can you imagine our poor county paying out $2,351,845 to anyone for anything short of guaranteeing us the growth that has eluded us for the past 50 years?

That’s the exact amount that was paid and committed to be paid later for bond issuance costs in 2012 and 2013, according to Lauderdale County’s audited statements on the Office of the State Auditor website.

For the most part, all that bond issuance triumvirate does is fill in the blanks on boiler plate documents and line up a few bidders to loan us the money. 

And now we’re supposed to be impressed with saving $185,000 over the next 10 years. While we save that much in 10 years, they split up the lion’s share of $100,000-$200,000 in January or February.

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad and indicative of what Mr. Barry has gotten for so long. A Faustian type “deal with the devil” for 26 years now.

He and his buddies get big bond issue paydays regularly and our county’s board of supervisors get big bond slush funds to spend millions on the likes of ball fields and other projects to make them look good to their districts’ voters.

Even borrowing bonded money for the paving they claim is so essential is overspending the amount allocated in their budget. And the only reason that’s required is due to their historically poor management.

And for the controversial $14 million bond issue arranged for the county in November 2015, there was only one bidder for the $3.2 million tranche and only two bidders for the $10.8 million. Must have been an awful burden to Mr. Grubbs to find those two and their 3 percent plus interest rates when the Fed was practically paying banks to take their money instead of charging for it back then.

I guess Mr. Barry and his “bonders” will be back for that big refi payday in another year or two.

At the first workshop board meeting in January 2016, Mr. Barry’s primary assistant for board matters, Lee Thaggard, was covering.

Toward the end of the meeting, he slid a document to the middle of the table and said “we’ve gotten Butler Snow to prepare the language for your usual first of the new term $10 million bond issue.”

In case you have any doubt about who is really calling the shots here, consider what just happened. And that language, so broad like in the $14 million one, that may as well have stated that the money could be spent on anything the BOS wanted to.

What Mr. Barry had not counted on was supervisor Wayman Newell’s spontaneous reaction, nearly coming out of his chair at the idea of borrowing $10 million more, less than a month after they had just deposited the $14 million in December, from the 2013 bond issue.

Attorney Stephen Wilson, representing us citizens, had managed to have that highly controversial and exorbitant bond issue held up until the Supreme Court finally ruled on it in August of 2015.

On hearing Thaggard’s suggestion, Mr. Newell virtually levitated about an inch above his chair: “What? We’re gonna borrow more and have another $10 million lying around!”

It was so authentic and revealing that it stopped that one dead in its tracks, much to Mr. Barry’s chagrin, I’m sure.

Tommy Williams is a resident of Marion. He is acting director of Lauderdale County Citizens For Responsible Governance. Contact him at 601-479-5110 or email lccfrg@gmail.com.

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