Senate OKs bill allowing West Point to turn over land to steel mill

March 26, 2009



JACKSON - The state Senate approved a bill Thursday allowing West Point to turn over city-owned land for a steel company to relocate there. 


There''s also a proposed West Point tax increase bill making progress in the Senate. 


The tracts by the Fisher Marine property is to be leased to Fabricators Supply, a sister company to Ellis Steel, said West Point Mayor Scott Ross. 


The property is not the old Bryan Foods plant as was erroneously reported Thursday. 


The legislation sets a $1.2 million purchase price for the land and its improvements, but Ross said West Point has already bought the property and received federal funds for upgrading it. The city needs a state law to bind a lease-purchase agreement made for Fabricators Supply to acquire it. 


The House of Representatives has a similar bill in the works. The House Local and Private Legislation Committee voted Wednesday for the bill, sending it to the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration. The bill must receive approval there before moving to the full House for consideration. 


The West Point property bills are Senate Bill 3297 and House Bill 1771. The legislation was requested by Ross and the West Point Board of Selectmen. 


They''ve also asked state lawmakers to approve a local tax increase to generate revenues to improve West Point''s recreational and tourism-related facilities. Senate Bill 3296 was approved Friday by the Senate Local and Private Committee and sent to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. 


In the House, the committee chairman deciding the fate there of the proposed West Point sales tax increase said he''s not sure yet if he''s going to bring it up for his committee to pass. 


City officials have asked the Legislature to give them permission to raise sales taxes at restaurants, motels and liquor stores. 


West Point already has a special 1 percent sales tax on restaurants and motels. The legislation - House Bills 1754 and 1766 -- would authorize the rate to go up to 2 percent and also let it apply to liquor stores. One bill requires a city referendum for voters to approve or reject the tax proposal and another provides for a referendum only if 1,500 voters petition for it. 


Rep. Willie Perkins, D-Greenwood, who chairs the House Local and Private Legislation Committee, said he was still studying the two local tax increase bills filed on behalf of West Point. His committee meets Monday. 


The West Point bills must be approved in the same form by the committees, the House and the Senate before they can be sent to the governor for his approval. 


The Mississippi Legislature is trying to wind down its work on all bills not tied to the stat e budget and recess its annual session on Tuesday. Lawmakers have set a May 4 return date to take up the budget, but that''s subject to change.