Published 12:00 am Friday, August 10, 2012

City discusses LSP with Partnership

By Rupert Howell

Batesville city officials heard concerns from Panola Partnership Executive Director Sonny Simmons about his agency’s standing in the outcome of the ongoing LSP Energy bankruptcy case in U.S. Federal Court in Delaware during Tuesday’s meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen.

Simmons said that while Panola Partership had received every monthly payment on time, including one the previous day that included the annual increase amount,  he said, “I haven’t seen any indication where Panola Partnership’s interest has been represented.”

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LSP Energy, a gas powered generating facility at the Harmon Industrial Complex, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and while city and county property taxes are in arrears, officials believe they will be paid along with secured debts when the facility is sold.

Panola Partnership’s payments come from a unique agreement that came about when the state of Mississippi assisted with infrastructure such as the 10-inch water line that supplies the steam driven turbines with water from Enid Lake.

The Partnership receives in excess of $30,000 per month, money that must be used for economic development infrastructure such as roads, property, utility lines and buildings. The fund has allowed the Partnership an aggressive “carrot” when luring economic development to the county.

The issue surfaced at the meeting when Alderman Eddie Nabors asked the question, “Do they (bankruptcy officials) know of this special arrangement and how it came about?”
Attorney Colmon Mitchell said that he hasn’t seen all details of the ongoing proceedings, but would look further into the matter.

Panola Partnership joined the City of Batesville and Panola County in an agreement to pay legal fees for a law firm attuned to bankruptcy cases. Panola County is owed approximately $3.6 million, including school millage, for 2011 taxes and the City of Batesville is owed approximately $800,000.

Those amounts are in arrears but thought to be forthcoming soon after next month’s proposed sale. Panola Partnership’s payments are current, but their future is in doubt.