OCEDA director confident Link won't require tax hike

November 21, 2012 10:35:16 AM



Though his budget had already been approved through the consent agenda, Jack Wallace, president of the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, made a presentation to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night, highlighting the organization's most important projects and expenditures.  


Wallace spoke in glowing terms of the lease income OCEDA receives from the Thad Cochran Research Park and the efforts his organization has made to advance the Cornerstone Industrial Park on the west side of Starkville. 


OCEDA is bringing in just over $487,000 in lease income and utility reimbursements, according to Wallace. 


"We have improved our lease revenue with our tenants, and we have some really good ones," Wallace said. "Renasant (Bank) will be moving out of the research park in June, but we already have that space leased ... We only have one space left in the park that's not rented or occupied." 


The biggest addition to OCEDA's budget, however, is the addition of a $100,000 payment to the new Golden Triangle Regional Development Link. 


Wallace spoke confidently when he said the two-percent food and beverage tax revenue, OCEDA's funding source, would alone be enough to cover the investment without additional taxes. According to the tentative agreement with the GTRD Link, cities and counties can levy up to a 2 mill increase in taxes to fund the group.  


Conservatively, Wallace said, the two-percent tax for the upcoming year will bring in roughly $250,000. 


Though payments will have to be approved annually by respective boards, the city, county, OCEDA and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership have agreed to a three-year, interim contract with the GTRD Link that calls for a combined annual payment of $350,000 from the four entities. 


"We think that investment will pay off many times," Wallace said. "We are being very careful that we will budget ourselves to carry it out for three years. I am confident that we can." 


All parties involved with the interim GTRD Link contract have the right to withdraw at any time during the three-year process.  


If legislative moves are made by the GTRD Link to change anything prior to the end of the contract, then the contract will be voided and the parties will be released from any obligations. 


The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors selected Zelma Talley at their Monday night meeting to represent Oktibbeha County's interests on a four-person GTRD Link board. With Talley being the final addition, the interim board is complete.  


Wallace's only complaint was OCEDA's office space. He said that the organization is managing, but with only 55,000 square feet to work in, quarters are tight. Wallace quickly noted that more space is not a priority at the moment, however.