By CARL SMITH
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the Cotton Mill project’s tax increment financing plan during its Monday meeting.
Public hearings on the Cotton Mill Marketplace, a sprawling retail development planned around the Highway 12 entrance to Mississippi State University, were held at least three years ago, board President Marvell Howard said Sunday, but another is needed after the county adopted a redevelopment plan.
This TIF plan, Howard said, will waive a percentage of ad valorem taxes imposed on the project.
“(TIFs) are a real way of helping a business development to have some funding up front to get it off the ground,” he said. “The county has agreed to waive some of the taxes, but we can’t waive things like the school tax.”
A completed Cotton Mill Marketplace, he said, would improve property value in the area and supply a larger stream of revenue for the county once the waiver terminates.
“The county will see benefits then in an ad valorem stream, and the city will see more benefit from ad valorem and sales taxes,” he said. “Hopefully, the project will draw retailers, which will then generate an influx of consumers to shop in Oktibbeha County. I think it’ll be a huge thing for the county, city and university.”
In other business, the board will hear a request from the District 5 Volunteer Fire Department to seek a Class 8 designation from the Mississippi State Rating Bureau.
County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said the district is currently at a Class 10 designation, and, if approved by the MSRB, the move would help lower insurance premiums for residents of the area.
“We have three rated volunteer fire stations in the county: East Oktibbeha County Volunteer Fire Department, Central Volunteer Fire Department and Adaton (Volunteer Fire Department). Those three areas have response districts which meet certain criteria with water transport, manpower and administration. Class 10 to Class 8 is a substantial move benefiting those citizens because it doesn’t cost them anything to make the move — the rated districts aren’t taxing districts.”
Rosenhan said District 5 has worked for the past few years to make the jump to a Class 8 designation. Currently, the department is attempting to schedule a water transport exercise with the MSRB, but no date is set. If the exercise is performed properly, Rosenhan said approval for the move is the last needed action.
“Class 8 is about as good as you can get in the county because the levels below that require substantial fire codes, career (full-time) firefighters and, more importantly, water supply. We have hydrants in the county, but they don’t have an adequate capacity for those ratings,” he said. “With District 5, we’re way overdue for making the move.”