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Board of Supervisors: Lawyer seeks lower civic center fees

DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Attorney Pat McCullough addresses the board of supervisors about state leasing policies for the Lincoln County Civic Center. McCullough has been pleading with the Mississippi State Tax Commission since 2009 to lower the tax bond amount required when leasing the center.

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors heard Monday from area attorney Pat McCullough concerning McCullough’s battle with the Mississippi State Tax Commission concerning leasing regulations at the Lincoln County Civic Center.

The $500 tax bond minimum that event organizers and planners are required to pay to use the civic center is “off the reservation,” McCullough said.

McCullough, an attorney based in Ruth, has been pleading with the Mississippi State Tax Commission since 2009 to lower the tax bond amount. In so doing, McCullough said he hopes to increase business at the center.

“The commission needs to look at a history of tax collected during recent events at the civic center, and then make a conclusion that aligns with their own statutes and regulations,” McCullough continued.

Currently, state statute stipulates income that is generated from events at the center are required to bring in two times what is expected to be paid in taxes. This amount can be no less than $100 over a three-month period.

As it stands, participants must pay a $500 tax bond, which they will get back in six to eight weeks, before they can put an event on at the center.

“Our community and the state of Mississippi are losing money. We are losing business. Many people don’t have $500 to put up this investment. I have queried 19 separate facilities in the state. Most of them don’t tax anything at all.”

“They (the State Tax Commission) not only do not have the authority, they are not adhering to their own statutes and regulations,” argued McCullough at the meeting.

Upon hearing McCullough’s plea, the board opted to join in.

“We are just looking for the state to review the records from previous events at the center, and having done so, align their very own statutes and regulations in a uniform manner,” McCullough said.

In other business at Monday’s board meeting, county administrator David Fields, reiterated the final amended budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Total revenue topped $16.2 million, while total expenditures were closer to $15.3 million for the year.

In other business, Jeff J. Dungan of Dungan Engineering updated the board on current county engineering projects, such as the micro seal of county roads. Final inspection of the micro seal project will take place in a month or so, Dungan said.

Also, Dungan provided the board with a list of roads in need of signs and striping compiled by his engineering firm from a maintenance inspection report. Dungan told the board he was open to adding or removing signs or streets upon the board’s discretion.

In addition, Dungan mentioned the benefits of using an accident database, utilized by officials in the Mississippi Department of Transportation, to prevent future accidents.

The database is a reference tool compiled by law enforcement that stretches back to 2004 and gives detailed information about any particular intersection in the county. By referencing the database, Dungan said, the board and his engineers can make educated decisions on how and where to proceed with county funds.

“This way we can know where to put up signs and where to paint,” Dungan said. “This could prevent future accidents.”

The local system bridge program, a state aid program that provides funds to Mississippi counties, accounts for $1.8 million in Lincoln County, according to Dungan. These funds will be used to fund at least three projects by the end of the year, Dungan said.