Lump Sum

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2012

‘Lump sum’ gets OK by supervisors

By Billy Davis

Panola County’s supervisors said Monday they want to maintain a legal provision that states Panola Partnership can spend LSP Energy payments only for economic development.  

The bankrupt energy supplier was purchased by Southern Mississippi Electric Power Association, which is expected to make a lump-sum payment of $3.7 million to the Partnership in coming days.

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Panola Partnership operates as an economic development agency for the county, and its office in Batesville also oversees the Chamber of Commerce and Batesville Main Street.

For the sake of background, board attorney Bill McKenzie laid out the bankruptcy purchase and the option of a lump-sum payment to supervisors at their First District meeting in Sardis. LSP Energy is paying the Partnership more than $30,000 monthly and just recently SMEPA offered a one-time payment or to continue the monthly payments, McKenzie explained.

“Everybody agreed it makes sense to get a one-time payment and no more monthly payments, in case the next owner goes bankrupt,” McKenzie told the board.

The board attorney went on to explain that the funds went toward economic development when LSP Energy began its payments, and now the Partnership wants more leeway in how to spend the money.
After some discussion the Board of Supervisors directed Kelley Magee, the Panola County administrator, to advise the Partnership that the county wants the provision unchanged.

Magee attends regular meetings of the Partnership board, which was scheduled for Monday, as a non-voting member.

“My personal opinion is to keep the money for economic development,” said board president Kelly

Morris, and other supervisors nodded at the comment.

Morris and his colleagues then voted unanimously to suggest the lump-sum payment but agreed the provision should remain unchanged at the Partnership.

Hours after the county board meeting, Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons said the Partnership board voted to allow the lump-sum payment. The original provision for spending the funds is unchanged, he said.

In other county business, road manager Lygunnah Bean reported the road department is working with state bridge inspectors to improve bridges on seven county roads to ensure they remain open.

Bean said the bridges are on Curtis-Locke Station, Curtis and Pride, Old Panola, Melrose, Tocowa and Benson roads.

Road department crews plan to drive new pilings to support the structures to satisfy inspectors, and pour concrete to prevent erosion.

Bean admitted the inspectors want to close the bridges but said the bridgework will satisfy their concerns.

“We must do Curtis-Locke Station this week or they will shut it down,” he said.

The road manager said he was unsure if the bridges will be closed during the work.

Bean also reported a Como resident has pledged the use of trucks and trailers to haul dirt to the new Como City Park if Panola County sells the dirt.

Supervisors voted unanimously to sell dirt for the project.

Park committee members asked the Board of Supervisors last week to haul three loads of gravel and 14 loads of dirt to the park but were turned down.