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Katrina house donation bill fails

Friday, April 5, 2013, 8:56 am News Flash Archive

When the Mississippi Legislature adjourned Sine Die yesterday, all hope this year for the city of Greenwood to donate the Katrina cottages to the Baptist Town revitalization effort died.

That puts in jeopardy half a million dollars in grant money, as well as the entire Baptist Town project that had become a cornerstone of Mayor McAdams' revitalization efforts in the community.

The City of Greenwood owns a number of these FEMA cottages. However, under state law, the city cannot donate them to anybody, but can only sell them as surplus property. Neither can the city use the cottages to house people, or offer them for rent as housing.

Therefore, a local and private law was proposed to permit the city to donate the cottages to any non-profit organization that provides housing to low-income persons. That bill, authored by State Senator Lydia Chassaniol, was passed by the Senate by a unanimous vote on April 2.

Had the House of Representatives passed the bill that the Senate sent over, the bill would have become law with the Governor's signature.

However, State Representative willie Perkins introduced an amendment to the bill to require the cottages be given to Three Rivers Community and Economic Development Corporation.

Perkins' amendment may be viewed here:
Perkins Amendment

Readers will recall that Three Rivers is the same group that was responsible for running the Leflore County Business Incubator. The county terminated their management agreement after Three Rivers failed to pay thousands of dollars in rent that it owed to the county. After Three Rivers was fired, Supervisor Robert Moore assisted them in removing equipment from the facility that was used to run the incubator's activities. The equipment was never located, and whether Three Rivers actually owned the equipment, or whether it was county equipment by virtue of being purchased with grant money, was never made clear to the public.

Once the House had changed the bill, it was required for the Senate to concur with those changes, or for a conference committee to reconcile the two different versions. The Constitution requires that any law passed must have identical language in both the versions that the House and Senate vote to approve.

The Senate was unable to accomplish that task in the less than 24 hours that remained in the current session.

For the entire history of the bill, as well as the original text, see here:
Bill History

The amendment that Perkins introduced effectively torpedoed the effort by the Mayor and local economic development leaders to obtain the cottages to provide to poor residents of Baptist Town. Mr. Perkins' wife, Sheriel Perkins, is running against the Mayor on a platform that includes allegations that the incumbent Mayor has not done enough for people in communities like Baptist Town.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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