Trust fund board holds first meeting

May 16, 2013 10:50:17 AM

Nathan Gregory - [email protected]


A timeline has been set for financial firms to submit proposals to manage finances from Lowndes County's hospital sale. 


During the first official meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Lowndes County Reserve and Trust Fund, which consists of the county board of supervisors, county administrator Ralph Billingsley was authorized to issue requests for proposals to consultants, a process he said would begin today. Interested parties must file a notice of intent to respond by June 7 and submit proposals by June 28.  


The meeting was held immediately after a board of supervisors meeting. 


A proposal review committee consisting of Billingsley, board president Harry Sanders, supervisor Bill Brigham, chief financial officer Dave Basinger and county attorney Tim Hudson will narrow the scope of the submissions to no more than five finalists and notify them by July 15 so presentations can be scheduled. Billingsley said those presentations would likely take place at a special meeting. 


The board has the option in selecting multiple firms to provide management and investment services for portions of the $30 million principal. 


The passage of Senate Bill 2702 authorized the establishment of the trust fund and mandated supervisors to serve as the trustees. 


Sanders said the consultant(s) selected will be authorized to place funds in various interest-bearing investments of the trustees' choosing, including state, federal, government and corporate AAA bonds as well as common stocks. The principal cannot be touched unless trustees declare an emergency, in which case up to five percent could be spent on the condition that it is repaid. 


"There are going to be an awful lot of stipulations on how they manage the money, and we're going to have to set some parameters," Sanders said. "We'll allow whoever we choose ... to invest in what we tell them to." 


Supervisors conducted the following business during their meeting: 


■ Approved formal applications for a $1.25 million Community Development Block Grant and a $5.35 million CAP loan through the Mississippi Development Authority. If approved, funding would be used to acquire property and build a facility that would house sustainable building material company CalStar Products, which has agreed to locate an operation in Golden Triangle Industrial Park that would bring a minimum of 58 jobs; 


■ Heard an update from District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith on the Plum Grove baseball field project, which he said was set to begin in the first week in June; 


■ Re-opened Co-Op Road. A judge ordered the road re-opened in February after the board opted to abandon the road in October of 2011. An appeal the board filed in March against the judgment that was meant to give the county more time to repair the road was left in place, but county attorney Tim Hudson said little progress has been made; 


■ Heard discussion from District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks regarding Columbus' island to which the historic Highway 82 bridge leads. Funding was secured from the Mississippi Department of Transportation to renovate the bridge into a pedestrian walkway, and the renovation process will soon be completed. Brooks suggested establishing a joint committee with the city to begin dialogue of potential development on the island.

Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.