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Board Of Aldermen Approve Small Rate Increase For City Electricity
WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley Board of Alderpersons adopted a price structure for the purchase of land in the Water Valley Industrial Park. The unanimous vote came during the April monthly meeting as newly hired Yalobusha County Economic Development and Tourism District Director Kagan Coughlin explained having a price structure will be an important tool when he meets with companies interested in locating in the industrial park.
“Any land sale would still have to come to the board to be approved. But with this I can talk specifics,” Coughlin told board members.
The price structure adopted by alderpersons includes a retail price of $15,000 per acre in the 116-acre industrial park. Coughlin’s proposal included price reductions based on the number of employees and total investment for an industry locating in the industrial park. Coughlin explained that a discounted price based on the defined benchmarks allows the city to value the difference between the retail price and discounted price as an incentive.
“If the state is giving grant money or incentives to a big employer, they are looking for the local municipality to also contribute,” Coughlin told city officials. He added that he has visited with the economic development directors in neighboring Lafayette, Panola and Grenada counties to learn about property transactions in industrial parks. He shared that the retail prices in those counties range from $20,000 to $30,000 per acre for industrial acreage.
“But the numbers that our neighbors have as their retail price quickly go to zero when they have someone who is looking to relocate a factory,” Coughlin explained about providing incentives during the April 5 meeting.
“You don’t make your money off your industrial parks by selling land. You make it from the companies that are there. They are paying utility bills, they are paying taxes on the property and equipment and they are hiring your people,” Coughlin said.
He added that the price structure presented to aldermen is also geared to recruit smaller business, making it different from what neighboring counties offer.
“The state incentives don’t really help unless you provide at least 20 jobs and invest at least $1.5 million. That is a pretty big business. We are looking at smaller businesses that are more likely to be attracted to a county with our population. But if they come here, they can grow here,” Coughlin explained.
The economic development director shared that there have been two prior transactions in the industrial park, one in 1994 for $1,500 per acre, and the latest one in 1999 for $18,000 per acre.
“But that property had industrial buildings on it,” Coughlin explained about the 1999 transaction.
The board also gave Coughlin the green light to meet with City Attorney Daniel Martin to make minor updates to the 1989 covenant regulating the industrial park acreage. The updates will be presented to alderpersons in a subsequent meeting for adoption.
Coughlin, who previously served as a city alderman for one term, was hired as the county’s economic development director last month. He succeeds Bob Tyler, who was hired as the district’s first director in 2007. Tyler will work alongside Coughlin until June, when he will retire from the position.
“I am going to be serving Water Valley, Coffeeville and Oakland and the county at-large in this new capacity. There is a lot to do, and a lot to learn about,” he told city officials.
Coughlin also said he will be meeting with aldermen in the Town of Coffeeville with a similar proposal for the industrial park in that municipality, as well as price structure county-owned industrial property in Oakland.
Other business handled in the monthly meeting included:
• Voted 4-1 to approve a request from Water Valley Electric Department Superintendent Brandon Richardson for a 2.3 percent rate adjustment for electricity. Richardson said the last increase was in 2019, and the rate hike will generate an additional $94,480 annually.
Ward Two Alderman Freddie Folson cast the dissenting vote.
“We just had one in 2019,” Folson noted about the previous rate increase. “Is this something that Water Valley has to do or is it just someone’s proposal?” he asked.
“Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is our governing regulatory authority. They set our rates and we in turn adjust ours,” Gray answered. “This was a recommendation from Tennessee Valley Authority and consultants who assist the city. We face inflation in everything. We have to pay Tennessee Valley Authority every month, and we have to collect the money from our customers to pay them.”
“This will help with the rising cost of things too,” Richardson said.
“It’s something that we don’t like, but it is something that we have to do,” Alderman-at-Large Herbie Rogers added.
• Approved a request from T.G. Baker to work with attorney Martin to draft an agreement to construct a new airport hanger. Baker told aldermen that he would build a four-plane hangar to house his two airplanes. He would also rent the other two spaces and use the proceeds to pay for the hangar. Baker said terms of the deal would include transferring ownership of the hangar to the city after it is paid off.
• Reappointed Ora Polk to a five-year term for the Water Valley Housing Authority Board of Trustees.
• Approved a request from Allied Industry to pour a 40×10 concrete pad behind the building and a walkway along the west side of the building.
“It is our property, they are our tenants. So as the landlords we need to provide them permission,” Martin explained.
• Approved a bid of $8,500 from Tyler Hill to purchase one-tenth of an acre from the city property. The South Main Street property had been deemed surplus and the city had advertised for bids to sell it.
• Approved two applications to submit for a USDA Community Facilities Grant. The grants included $22,441 for the parks and recreation department which requires a 25 percent match from the city. The second application was for the city auditorium for roof and drainage repairs at the City Auditorium. The total estimated project cost is $82,320. If the grant is awarded, the city will receive up to the 75 percent of the project cost up to $50,000.