Magee questions value of SCDF funding

By PAT BROWN,

Citing the reason that the board was tired of being “the bellcow for funding for economic development,” the City of Magee voted to reduce their funding by one-third for the upcoming budget year for the Simpson County Development Foundation.

Mayor Dale Berry said that Magee Aldermen feel they have paid more than other municipalities, citing Mendenhall by name.  He went on to say that even D’Lo is being discussed for  a development project and they do not give anything. 

Last year the City of Magee set aside $7,500,  Mendenhall $5,000, and D’Lo nothing.  The Magee board has appropriated $15,000 in the past.  This year they designated $5,000.   That, despite the fact that Berry bragged upon coming into office that the city had over $800,000 in the coffers which he referred to as “a rainy day fund,” then quickly said that was not politically correct. 

Pat Brown, publisher of the paper and chairman for the Development Foundation, challenged the board about cutting funding.  Alderman Patrick Brown responded by asking what the Foundation had done for Magee.  SCDF’s Brown said that Mayor Berry, along with Alderman Whitney Baker, are on the board and are well aware of projects.  Alderman Brown said that had not always been the case.  SCDF Brown responded that Mayor Jimmy Clyde had also served on the board for numerous years. 

SCDF Brown said, “Look out on the highway and see what is going on.”  He asserted that it was the Foundation that brought Mississippi Department of Transportation into the equation with traffic around the new elementary school. He also mentioned the bringing of Love’s Truck Stop, working with Real Pure Bottling Company as well as issues helping with Polk’s Meat and other prospects.  In addition the SCDF tried to make their services available on the old Magee Elementary project that Alderman Patrick Brown is spearheading. 

It is obvious that economic development is going on and to think otherwise is narrow minded  as well as being shortsighted. 

Alderman Lane Steele suggested that if the funding is needed the Magee board could reconsider additional funding later in the budget year. 

Alderman Whitney Baker met later with the paper and suggested that the city did not have a good understanding of  the role and varied projects that the Foundation had been working on.  She suggested that better communications may help.  SCDF’s Brown commented that SCDF’s executive director Donnie Caughman had been working on that through updates of a monthly newsletter as well as in local media.  He has also attended city board meetings.