Retirement community notifications delayed

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2005

A Mississippi Development Authority official said it may stillbe a few weeks before Monticello residents learn if their communityqualified to be included in the state’s retirement communityprogram.

Diana O’Toole, director of the Mississippi Retirement CommunityProgram, said Monticello made the short list of 10 municipalitiesunder consideration, but MDA has not decided on how many, if any,of those towns will be added to the program.

“Certification is going to depend on a large degree on ourfunding,” O’Toole said. “I’m hoping that is not the case, but itcould have a huge impact.”

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In February, when O’Toole and an advisory council visitedMonticello on a site visit, O’Toole said she expected to be able toannounce which cities would be certified by mid-March.

That announcement has been delayed partly because of a late sitevisit in north Mississippi earlier this month and questions aboutthe funding of the program.

Once the Legislature appropriates the MDA money, she said, theagency will distribute it based on its needs. The entire processcould take weeks.

“I may have to issue letters to those who are accepted sayingthey are accepted pending funding,” O’Toole said.

At stake for the municipalities is the ability to promote theirtowns as an ideal living area for retirees. Retirees are recruitedbecause many become active in community organizations and theireconomic impact is often equivalent to a small industry.

Mississippi currently has 18 municipalities and one regioncertified as state retirement communities, including Brookhaven andMcComb in southwest Mississippi.