The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to support plans to issue a bond of up to $10 million for a number of projects so broad that accountability to the public would seem nearly impossible.
We urge the board to reconsider.
Here’s the language printed on the agenda:
“10. Resolution Declaring the Intention of the Board of Supervisors of Lauderdale County, Mississippi, to Issue General Obligation Bonds of Lauderdale County, Mississippi in the Principal Amount of Not to Exceed Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000) to Raise Money for the Purpose of (A) Constructing, Reconstructing, and Repairing Roads, Highways and Bridges, and Acquiring the Necessary Land, Including Land for Road Building Materials, Acquiring Rights-of-way Therefor; and the Purchase of Heavy Construction Equipment and Accessories Thereto Reasonably Required to Construct, Repair and Renovate Roads, Highways and Bridges and Approaches Thereto Within the County; (B) Purchasing or Erecting, Equipping, Repairing, Reconstructing, Remodeling and Enlarging County Buildings, Courthouses, Office Buildings, Jails and Related Facilities, and the Purchase of Stadiums, Lakes Waterfowl or Game Management Areas, and Acquiring Sites Therefor; (D) purchasing Machinery and Equipment Which Have an Expected Useful Life in Excess of Ten (10) Years; (E) Purchasing Fire Fighting Equipment and Apparatus, and Providing Housing for Same and Purchasing Land Necessary Therefor; and (F) Paying for the Costs of Issuance for the Bonds; and directing Publication of Notice of Such Intention.
“11. Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of Lauderdale County, Mississippi (The “County”), Authorizing the Employment of Certain Professionals in Connection with the Issuance of Not to Exceed Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000) General Obligation Bonds in One or More Series, of the County to Raise Money for the Purpose of…”
Best we can tell, kitchen sink not included.
We acknowledge that there are many worthy and needed projects within the legalese above, caring for the courthouse and roads among them. We would appeal to the supervisors to be up front with taxpayers and include those items in the annual budget and, if necessary, raise taxes to support those projects as needed rather than borrow once again against our future.
A reluctance to continue the reliance on bonds was expressed at Monday’s board meeting. New President Kyle Rutledge, District 5, challenged the supervisors to get away from bonding. District 3 Supervisor Josh Todd noted after the meeting that he thought a $10 million bond has been issued nearly every term since the late 1980s or early 1990s.
Still, the supervisors, with no audible objections, voted to move forward with issuing a $10 million bond that contains especially broad language.
We understand the pressure in Lauderdale County, Mississippi to avoid raising taxes. In the long run that’s led to deteriorating roads and a courthouse that’s an embarrassing safety hazard, and our county’s children and grandchildren are being asked to pay the bill for the neglect.
The day is drawing closer when the supervisors will have to determine how to pay for a new courthouse, which estimates indicate will cost in excess of $30 million. That will be the day when they’ll require the county’s support for a bond.
Let’s not squander that request of county residents and businesses on yet another broad-worded bond to be trickled away on what should be everyday expenses.
We don’t want to be the poor soul who took out a generous line of credit and eventually has nothing to show for it.