Armory, other plans unfunded in session

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2005

After a special session ended Saturday with no bond billapproved, Lincoln County lawmakers say funding for several areaprojects may have to be addressed during next year’s regularsession.

District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, however, downplayed theLegislature’s failure to pass $2 million in supplemental fundingfor a new National Guard Armory and Readiness Center in Monticello.She indicated that an earlier funding approval would allow theproject to get started.

“We’ve got enough to get matching funds and to build a smallerarmory,” the senator said.

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During a special session last year, the Legislature approved$1.4 million for the armory, Hyde-Smith said. She said the federalgovernment is contributing approximately $4 million to theproject.

Hyde-Smith, D-Brookhaven, said the additional $2 million wasneeded to address a discrepancy in original construction documents.While pointing out that money would not be needed for another 18 to24 months, she said she hoped the funds can be added during nextyear’s regular session.

“It was not a fatal mistake,” the senator said of thediscrepancy. “It wasn’t something that couldn’t be corrected.”

Hyde-Smith said the Senate Finance Committee removed the $2million for armory and a variety of other projects during thecommittee process.

District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, voiced regret overthe Senate’s failure to pass funding for the armory and otherprojects. Also included the House-passed version were $25,000 foran amphitheater in Brookhaven, $20,000 for sidewalk improvementsand a walking trail in Bogue Chitto, and funds for other projectsin surrounding counties and across the state.

“The House passed those projects twice, and the Senate killedthem,” said Moak, whose district includes part of Lawrence County.”All they wanted to deal with was the $84 million the governorwanted.”

After Gov. Haley Barbour expanded the session call followingpassage of the Momentum Mississippi economic development bondpackage, the House and Senate were unable to agree on a final billand the special session ended Saturday.

There were some grumblings from lawmakers about working on theFourth of July holiday weekend. Moak missed part of the session’sfinal day Saturday to start a brief Florida vacation.

“We didn’t have any votes,” Moak said this morning during hisreturn trip.

Moak said he had not spoken with local supporters regarding theamphitheater and other projects. He said they had been discussed inthe Legislature several times.

“I think everybody knows what those issues are,” Moak said.

District 91 Rep. Joey Hudson, D-Monticello, was unavailable forcomment on the armory situation. Unless another special session iscalled, Hyde-Smith and Moak said next year would be the firstopportunity to deal with funding for the armory and otherprojects.

“Right now, it’ll be something we have to take up in regularsession,” Moak said. “That’s fine with me.”