COFFEEVILLE – Voters in Yalobusha County’s District Three will determine on November 4 the fate of a general obligation road and bridge bond. The bond issue was pushed to an election after 489 people signed a petition asking for a vote.
Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney told supervisors during a recessed supervisor meeting held last Thursday in Coffeeville that he had verified the signatures on the petition. The petition had been turned in to county officials two days earlier, on September 2, by former District Three Supervisor Bailey Walker. The petitioners needed the signatures of 20 percent of the registered voters, or just under 400 people in District Three, to call the election.
Board attorney John Crow confirmed at the Thursday meeting that the issue could be placed on the November General Election ballot.
District Three Supervisor Butch Surrette first broached the bond issue during an August meeting, when he told supervisors he would like to borrow up to $250,000 for his Beat. Pointing to the increased assessed value of the county and the current low interest rates, Surrette said the timing was right for the transaction. Surrette said the money would be repaid with the current 1.9 mill assessment for a 1992 road and bridge bond in his district that was repaid. This would mean the millage rate in District Three would remain the same.
Following Surrette’s motion in the August meeting to float the bond, a board vote was taken with District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn casting the sole dissenting vote. He voted against passing a resolution for a notice of intent, which was the first step in the bond process, and against hiring Crow and Jackson legal firm Butler Snow to administer the bond.
After the August meeting Surrette, who is serving his fifth term as supervisor, told the Herald he did not plan to seek re-election after this term and the decision to borrow the money to improve the roads in his district was not politically motivated.
“I don’t have many people left on gravel roads, I will take care of that with this bond issue,” Surrette told the Herald. “A lot of roads built with bond money needs maintaining, we need to keep the money flowing,” Surrette also said about the decision. Elaborating, the supervisor said that he had paved almost 40 miles of road since taking office, and at least 30 miles have been paved using money from previous bonds. If the current bond passes, it will be his fourth road bond since taking office. Surrette took office in 1988 after defeating L.D. Jones. He served as supervisor until 2000, after mounting an unsuccessful campaign for Chancery Clerk. Four years later he was relected supervisor and again in 2007.
Although Surrette, who is ill, was absent at last Thursday’s meeting, supervisors learned it will take three-fifths of the District Three electorate to pass the bond. The board attorney also told supervisors last Thursday that Surrette may seek an additional half mill over the current 1.9 mills assessed for the 1992 road bond that was recently repaid in District Three.
The actual amount of the bond has not been determined. Crow told supervisors at last Thursday’s meeting that the variables including the term of repayment, actual amount of money to be borrowed and mills assessed for repayment were still under consideration by Surrette.
“It has been stated in the paper there is no more mill increase,” Vaughn said Thursday when he learned that Surrette may allocate 2.4 mills for the bond repayment if it passes, or .5 mills over the current 1.9 mills assessed for the 1992 bond.
“It boils down to interest rates,” Crow said Thursday, adding there was a big difference between three percent and a three-and-a-half percent rate.
The potential half mill increase remained a sticking point for Vaughn, who pointed out that people would be voting in November without knowing if there will be an increase in their taxes. Although the taxes would only be levied in District Three, Vaughn stated his position last month when he voted against the bond, comparing the scenario to a credit card with a long-term payback.