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Supervisors split on $20K contribution

Two Warren County supervisors say they support the development of an economic development strategic plan for the county, but believe the county shouldn’t contribute $20,000 toward the project.

Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce president Mark Buys and executive director Pablo Diaz met with the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to ask the county to contribute $20,000 toward hiring a consultant to help create an economic development strategic plan for the county. The estimated cost of the project is $100,000.

The chamber, Warren County Economic Development Foundation, city of Vicksburg and the Warren County Port Commission have each contributed $20,000 toward the project. The board took the request under advisement, and is expected to discuss it at a work session Monday.

“Apparently the board members wanted to look at it some more,” Board president Richard George said. “I don’t have any problem with it, but the board members must have some concerns because they want to take it under advisement and get those concerns addressed.”

Supervisors John Arnold and Williams Banks say they have a problem with the county contributing to the project. The county, they said, has already paid its fair share. Attempts to contact District 3 Supervisor Charles Selmon were unsuccessful.

“We feel like the port (commission) and the supervisors are one entity; we pull side-by-side. They are our economic development arm,” Arnold said. “They’ve already contributed to this situation, so we feel like we don’t need to contribute when our port commission already has, which represents the county.”

The five-member port commission is composed of two members appointed by the county, two appointed by the city and one appointed by the governor.

Arnold said the board is not against the plan, “But the original plan with the five (entities) probably was not the way to go. We weren’t included — the supervisors weren’t included — from the start on this planning matter. I feel like, and the others do, too, that it should have been a four-way split, because the port and the county are one.”

Under the chamber’s plan, Banks, who made the motion to table the item, said the county is paying twice. “We would be paying $40,000,” he said.

“We had a problem with it,” he said. “I don’t see where they get the fifth entity from. They were saying there’s five of us and there’s four. The Warren County Board of Supervisors and the Port Commission are one in the same. If they wanted to break it up, they should break it up into $25,000 each instead of $20,000 each. That’s the way I feel about it.”

Like George, District 4 Supervisor John Carlisle said he had no problem with the county contributing $20,000 to the project.

“I think some of the others wanted some more information,” he said.

Carlisle said he liked the idea of a strategic plan and thought most of the supervisors had already discussed it with Buys and Diaz.

“We’ve got to do something and get going here,” he said.    

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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