$2 million plus coming to town
The Mississippi legislature has designated more than $2 million for Co-Lin and Wesson from $145 million the state will receive in bond sales it has authorized to fund repair, renovation and construction at public universities and community colleges and earmarked for an assortment of projects in various districts.
The 2021 legislative session's bond bill includes $86 million in bonds for capital projects at the state's universities, $35 million for similar projects at community colleges and $24 million for the varied district projects.
Co-Lin will get $1.9 million from the funds designated for community colleges and the town of Wesson will get at least $300,000 from the district project funds for Old School Community Center renovations.
According to the bond bill, monies deposited into the fund for community colleges "shall be disbursed, in the discretion of the Department of Finance and Administration, to pay the costs of acquisition of real property, construction of new facilities, equipping and furnishing facilities, including furniture and technology equipment and infrastructure, and addition to or renovation of existing facilities for community and junior college campuses as recommended by the Mississippi Community College Board."
Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw says funds for the Old School Community Center can be used as the town sees fit, but the priorities are a kitchen, the parking area, and HVAC controls.
Although the Mayor estimated the Old School Community Center will see $300,000 for the rehabilitation project, an early draft of the bond bill showed $1 million allocated for the facility's "restoration and renovation."
The bond bill is an important part of state funding. This year’s appropriation for debt service will be more than $439 million, which is more than that for the Department of Corrections (more than $323 million) or the Department of Mental Health’s general fund appropriation ($214 million).
State taxpayers owe more than $4.634 billion in bond debt, according to the latest numbers from the state treasurer’s office.