MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

1998 Regular Session

To: Ways and Means

By: Representative Clark

House Bill 1595

AN ACT TO CREATE A GOVERNMENT AGENCY TO BE CALLED THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT; TO DECLARE AS A MATTER OF LEGISLATIVE DETERMINATION AND POLICY THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STATE WATERWAYS AND SURFACE WATERS; TO MAKE IT THE PURPOSE OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO PRESERVE, MANAGE AND PROMOTE THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER ALLUVIAL FLOODPLAIN WHICH IS KNOWN AS THE "MISSISSIPPI DELTA"; TO CREATE A BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT; TO ESTABLISH THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT SHALL ENCOMPASS MISSISSIPPI COUNTIES, BOTH LANDLOCKED AND BORDERING ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, THAT ARE LOCATED WITHIN THE ALLUVIAL FLOODPLAIN OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER, WHICH IS KNOWN AS THE "MISSISSIPPI DELTA"; TO ESTABLISH THE POWERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT; TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO ESTABLISH PUBLIC PARKS AND RECREATION FACILITIES; TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO OBTAIN AN APPROPRIATION PERMIT FROM THE BOARD OF WATER COMMISSIONERS; TO REQUIRE THOSE COUNTIES THAT ARE A PART OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO PAY INTO THE DEPOSITORY SELECTED BY THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT A PRO RATA SHARE OF THE ANNUAL MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT BUDGET; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO ISSUE BONDS; TO CONFER SUPPLEMENTAL POWERS TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT IN THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS; TO SET THE LIMITATION ON THE AMOUNT OF BONDS THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT MAY ISSUE; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO BORROW MONEY OR ISSUE BONDS ONLY IF SIXTY PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS VOTES IN FAVOR OF SUCH ACTION; TO REQUIRE THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF EACH COUNTY THAT IS A MEMBER OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO PAY A SPECIAL TAX LEVY FOR PAYMENT OF BONDS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE VALIDATION OF BONDS ISSUED BY THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT UNDER THIS ACT; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT, IN ITS DISCRETION, TO SECURE BONDS ISSUED UNDER THIS ACT BY A TRUST AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND A CORPORATE TRUSTEE; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO ISSUE REFUNDING BONDS OF THE DISTRICT FOR THE PURPOSE OF REFUNDING ANY BONDS THEN OUTSTANDING AND ISSUED UNDER THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT BONDS ISSUED UNDER THIS ACT SHALL BE LEGAL INVESTMENTS; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO DESIGNATE A STATE DEPOSITORY WITHIN THE DISTRICT TO SERVE AS THE DEPOSITORY FOR THE FUNDS OF THE DISTRICT; TO EXEMPT BONDS ISSUED UNDER THIS ACT FROM TAXATION; TO PROVIDE THAT THE PROVISIONS OF ANY OTHER GENERAL, SPECIAL OR LOCAL LAW SHALL NOT LIMIT OR RESTRICT THE POWERS GRANTED BY THIS ACT; TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO NEGOTIATE AND CONTRACT WITH THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA OR ANY AGENCY THEREOF IN AGREEMENTS RELATIVE TO FEDERAL HIGHWAYS; TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO ACT JOINTLY WITH POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS OF THE STATE, ITS AGENCIES, AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENCIES; TO AUTHORIZE ANY MUNICIPALITY OR COUNTY WHICH IS WITHIN THE TERRITORIAL LIMITS OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER DELTA MANAGEMENT DISTRICT TO ADVANCE FUNDS TO THE DISTRICT TO PAY PRELIMINARY EXPENSES; TO PROVIDE THAT NOTHING IN THIS ACT SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO VIOLATE ANY PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL OR STATE CONSTITUTIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. It is hereby declared, as a matter of legislative determination, that the waterways and surface waters of the state are among its basic resources, that the overflow and surface waters of the state have not heretofore been conserved to realize their full beneficial use, that the utilization, development, conservation, and regulation of such waters are necessary to insure an adequate flood control program, sanitary water supply at all times, to promote the balanced economic development of the state, and to aid in conservation and development of state forests, irrigation of lands needing irrigation, navigation, and pollution abatement. It is further determined and declared that the preservation, conservation, storage, and regulation of the waters of the Mississippi River alluvial floodplain, known as the Mississippi Delta, and its overflow waters for domestic, municipal, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and manufacturing purposes, for recreational uses, flood control, timber development, irrigation, navigation and pollution abatement are, as a matter of public policy, for the general welfare of the entire people of the state.

The creation of the Mississippi River Delta Management District is determined to be necessary and essential to the accomplishment of the aforesaid purposes, and this article operates on a subject in which the state at large is interested. All the terms and provisions of this article are to be liberally construed to effectuate the purposes herein set forth, this being a remedial law.

SECTION 2. The Mississippi River Delta Management District, hereafter referred to as the district, shall be organized in this state under the provisions of this article, in the manner provided in this act. The district shall be an agency of the state and a body politic and corporate. The Mississippi River Delta Management District shall encompass Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Desoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo counties.

SECTION 3. (1) All powers of the district shall be exercised by a board of directors to be composed of the following:

(a) Each appointed member of the district from a county which forms part of the district shall be a member of the board of directors of the district.

(b) The Governor shall appoint three (3) members of the board of directors of the district from the district at large. One (1) member appointed by the Governor shall serve for one (1) year, one (1) shall serve for two (2) years, and one shall serve for three (3) years, and thereafter the terms for all such members appointed by the Governor shall be five (5) years. No more than one (1) appointment may be made by the Governor from any one (1) county in the district. All initial appointments made pursuant to this paragraph shall be made no later than October 1, 1998, and no person appointed under this paragraph shall be an elected official or a county employee.

(c) The board of supervisors of each county in the Mississippi River Delta Management District shall have an appointment to the board of directors of the district as follows: the boards of supervisors of the counties of Desoto, Tunica, Panola, and Tate shall each appoint a member from their respective counties for an initial term of one (1) year; the boards of supervisors of the counties of Coahoma, Sunflower, Quitman and Bolivar shall each appoint a member from their respective counties for an initial term of two (2) years; the boards of supervisors of the counties of Washington, Humphreys, Yazoo and Issaquena shall each appoint a member from their respective counties for an initial term of three (3) years; the boards of supervisors of Warren, Hinds, Claiborne and Jefferson shall each appoint a member from their respective counties for an initial term of four (4) years; and the boards of supervisors of Holmes, Copiah, Adams, Franklin and Wilkinson shall each appoint a member from their respective counties for an initial term of five (5) years. All initial appointments made pursuant to this paragraph shall be made no later than October 1, 1999, and no person appointed under this paragraph shall be an elected official or a county employee. All appointments made pursuant to this paragraph after the initial appointments shall be for terms of five (5) years each or until a successor is appointed and qualifies.

(2) Each director shall take and subscribe to the general oath of office required by Section 268 of the Constitution of the State of Mississippi before a chancery clerk, that he or she will faithfully discharge the duties of the office, which oath shall be filed with the clerk and by him or her preserved.

(3) Each director shall receive a per diem in the amount established in Section 25-3-69, for attending each day's meeting of the board and for each day spent in attending to the necessary business of the district and, in addition, he or she may receive reimbursement for actual and necessary expenses thus incurred, upon express authorization of the board.

(4) The board of directors shall elect annually from its number a president and a vice president of the district, and such other officers as in the judgment of the board are necessary. The president shall be the chief executive officer of the district and the presiding officer of the board, and shall have the same right to vote as any other director. The vice president shall perform all duties and exercise all powers conferred by this article upon the president when the president is absent or fails or declines to act, except the president's right to vote. The board also shall appoint a secretary and a treasurer, who may or may not be members of the board, and it may combine those offices. Except as otherwise provided for in this subsection, the treasurer shall give bond in the sum of not less than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00) as set by the board of directors, and each director may be required to give bond in the sum of not less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) with sureties qualified to do business in this state, and the premium on such bonds shall be an expense of the district. The condition of each bond shall be that the treasurer or director will faithfully perform all duties of his or her office and account for all money or other assets which shall come into his or her custody as treasurer or director of the district. In lieu of the bonds required by this subsection, the board may authorize that the district purchase an equivalent amount of errors and omissions insurance for the treasurer and directors.

(5) Each director shall meet with the board of supervisors of the county from which he or she is appointed at least twice a year at reasonable times established by the board of supervisors.

SECTION 4. From and after October 1, 1998, in each county of the State of Mississippi which is a part of the Mississippi River Delta Management District, so long as funds are found to be necessary for the operation of the district by annual legislative approval of the district budget, the tax collector of such county shall pay into the depository selected by the district for such purpose an amount to be determined as follows: each county shall pay a pro rata share of the annual district budget, not to exceed three-fourths (3/4) mill excluding the amount necessary for debt service, based on the proportion that the most recent total assessed valuation of the county bears to the most recent aggregate total assessed valuation of all the counties which comprise the district. It shall be the duty of the board of directors of the district in the month of July annually upon receipt of the total assessed valuation of the member counties, certified by the Mississippi State Tax Commission, to prepare a request to the board of supervisors of the member counties to levy a tax using the formula herein established not to exceed three quarter (3/4) mill.

SECTION 5. (1) The Mississippi River Delta Management District through its board of directors is hereby empowered:

(a) To develop in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, or with the head of any other federal or state agency as may be involved, plans for public works of improvement to make navigable or for the prevention of flood water damage, or the conservation, development, recreation, utilization and disposal of water, including the impoundment, diversion, flowage and distribution of waters for beneficial use as defined in Article 1 of this chapter. (b) To impound overflow water and the surface water of any streams in the Mississippi River Delta Management District or its tributaries within the project area, within or without the district, at the place or places and in the amount as may be approved by the Office of Land and Water Resources of the State of Mississippi, by the construction of a dam or dams, reservoir or reservoirs, work or works, plants and any other necessary or useful related facilities contemplated and described as a part of the project within and without the district, to control, store, and preserve these waters, and to use, distribute, and sell them, to construct or otherwise acquire within the project area all works, plants or other facilities necessary or useful to the project for processing the water and transporting it to cities and other facilities necessary or useful to the project for the purpose of processing the water and transporting it to cities and other facilities for domestic, municipal, commercial, industrial, agricultural and manufacturing purposes, and is hereby given the power to control open channels for water delivery purposes and water transportation.

(c) To acquire and develop any other available water necessary or useful to the project and to construct, acquire, and develop all facilities within the project area deemed necessary or useful with respect thereto.

(d) To forest and reforest and to aid in the foresting and reforesting of the project area, and to prevent and aid in the prevention of soil erosion and flood within the area; to control, store and preserve within the boundaries of the project area the waters of any streams in the area, for irrigation of lands and for prevention of water pollution.

(e) To acquire by condemnation all property of any kind, real, personal or mixed, or any interest therein, within or without the boundaries of the district, necessary for the project and the exercise of the powers, rights, privileges and functions conferred upon the district by this article, according to the procedure provided by law for the condemnation of lands or other property taken for rights-of-way or other purposes by railroad, telephone or telegraph companies and according to the provisions of Section 29-1-1. For the purposes of this article the right of eminent domain of the district shall be superior and dominant to the right of eminent domain of railroad, telegraph, telephone, gas, power and other companies or corporations and shall be sufficient to enable the acquisition of county roads, state highways or other public property in the project area, and the acquisition or relocation of this property in the project area. The cost of right-of-way purchases, rerouting and elevating all other county-maintained roads affected by construction shall be borne by the water management district, and new construction shall be of equal quality as in roads existing as of June 1, 1962. The county in which such work is done may assist in these costs if the board of supervisors desires.

The amount and character of interest in land, other property and easements to be acquired shall be determined by the board of directors, and their determination shall be conclusive and shall not be subject to attack in the absence of manifold abuse of discretion or fraud on the part of such board in making this determination. However,

(i) In acquiring lands, either by negotiation or condemnation, the district shall not acquire minerals or royalties within the project area; sand and gravel shall not be considered as minerals within the meaning of this section; and

(ii) No person or persons owning the drilling rights or the right to share in production shall be prevented from exploring, developing or producing oil or gas with necessary rights-of-way for ingress and egress, pipelines and other means of transporting these products by reason of the inclusion of the lands or mineral interests within the project area, whether below or above the water line, but any activities shall be under reasonable regulations by the board of directors that will adequately protect the project; and

(iii) In drilling and developing, these persons are hereby vested with a right to have mineral interests integrated and their lands developed in the drilling unit or units that the state oil and gas board shall establish after due consideration of the rights of all owners to be included in the drilling unit.

Moreover, when any site or plot of land is to be rented, leased or sold to any person, firm or corporation for the purpose of operating recreational facilities thereon for profit, the board shall, by resolution, specify the terms and conditions of the sale, rental or lease, and shall advertise for public bids thereon. When these bids are received, they shall be publicly opened by the board, and the board shall thereupon determine the highest and best bid submitted and shall immediately notify the former owner of the site or plot of the amount, terms and conditions of the highest and best bid. The former owner of the site or plot shall have the exclusive right at his option, for a period of thirty (30) days after written notice is received by the land owner of the determination of the highest and best bid by the board, to rent, lease or purchase the site or plot of land by meeting the highest and best bid and by complying with all terms and conditions of renting, leasing or sale as specified by the board. However, the board shall not in any event rent, lease or sell to any former owner more land than was taken from the former owner for the construction of the project, or one-quarter (1/4) mile of shore line, whichever is lesser. If this option is not exercised by the former owner within a period of thirty (30) days, the board shall accept the highest and best bid submitted.

Any bona fide, resident householder actually living or maintaining a residence on land taken by the district by condemnation shall have the right to repurchase his former land from the board of directors for a price not exceeding the price paid for his land, plus any permanent improvements and plus the cost of condemnation.

(f) To require the necessary relocation of roads and highways, railroad, telephone and telegraph lines and properties, electric power lines, pipelines, and mains and facilities in the project area, or to require the anchoring or other protection of any of these, provided due compensation is first paid the owners thereof or agreement is had with the owners regarding the payment of the cost of relocation. Further, the district is hereby authorized to acquire easements or rights-of-way in or outside of the project area for the relocation of roads, highways, railroad, telephone and telegraph lines and properties, electric power lines, pipelines, and mains and facilities, and to convey them to the owners thereof in connection with the relocation as a part of the construction of the project. However, the directors of the district shall not close any public access road to the project existing prior to the construction of the reservoir unless the board of supervisors of the county in which the road is located agrees.

(g) To overflow and inundate any public lands and public property, including sixteenth section lands and in lieu lands, within the project area.

(h) To construct, extend, improve, maintain and reconstruct, to cause to be constructed, extended, improved, maintained and reconstructed, and to use and operate all facilities of any kind within the project area necessary or convenient to the project and to the exercise of powers, rights, privileges and functions.

(i) To sue and be sued in its corporate name.

(j) To adopt, use and alter a corporate seal.

(k) To make bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs.

(l) To employ engineers, attorneys, who may or may not be a director, and all necessary agents and employees to properly finance, construct, operate and maintain the projects and the plants, and to pay reasonable compensation for these services; for all services in connection with the issuance of bonds as provided in this article, the attorney's fee shall not exceed one percent (1%) of the principal amount of these bonds. For any other services, only reasonable compensation shall be paid for those services. The board shall have the right to employ a general manager or executive director, who shall, at the discretion of the board, have the power to employ and discharge employees. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, it may employ fiscal agents or advisors in connection with its financing program and in connection with the issuance of its bonds.

(m) To make contracts and to execute instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers, rights, privileges and functions conferred upon it by this article.

(n) To make or cause to be made surveys and engineering investigations relating to the project, or related projects, for the information of the district to facilitate the accomplishment of the purposes for which it is created.

(o) To apply for and accept grants from the United States of America or from any corporation or agency created or designated by the United States of America, and to ratify and accept applications heretofore or hereafter made by voluntary associations to these agencies for grants to construct, maintain or operate any project or projects which hereafter may be undertaken or contemplated by the district.

(p) To do all other acts or things necessary, requisite, or convenient to the exercising of the powers, rights, privileges or functions conferred upon it by this article or any other law.

(q) To make such contracts in the issuance of bonds that may be necessary to ensure the marketability thereof.

(r) To enter into contracts with municipalities, corporations, districts, public agencies, political subdivisions of any kind, and others for any services, facilities or commodities that the project may provide. The district is also authorized to contract with any municipality, corporation or public agency for the rental, leasing, purchase or operation of the water production, water filtration or purification, water supply and distributing facilities of the municipality, corporation or public agency upon consideration as the district and entity may agree. Any contract may be upon any terms and for any time as the parties may agree, and it may provide that it shall continue in effect until bonds specified therein and refunding bonds issued in lieu of these bonds and all obligations are paid. Any contract with any political subdivision shall be binding upon the political subdivisions according to its terms, and the municipalities or other political subdivisions shall have the power to enter into these contracts as in the discretion of the governing authorities thereof would be to the best interest of the people of the municipality or other political subdivisions. These contracts may include within the discretion of the governing authorities a pledge of the full faith and credit of the political subdivisions for the performance thereof.

(s) To fix and collect charges and rates for any services, facilities or commodities furnished by it in connection with the project, and to impose penalties for failure to pay these charges and rates when due.

(t) To operate and maintain within the project area, with the consent of the governing body of any city or town located within the district, any works, plants or facilities of any city deemed necessary or convenient to the accomplishment of the purposes for which the district is created.

(u) Subject to the provisions of this article, from time to time to lease, sell or otherwise lawfully dispose of property of any kind, real, personal or mixed, or any interest therein within the project area or acquired outside the project area as authorized in this article, for the purpose of furthering the business of the district.

(v) When, in the opinion of the board of directors as shown by resolution duly passed, it shall not be necessary to the carrying on of the business of the district that the district own any lands acquired, the board shall advertise the lands for sale to the highest and best bidder for cash, and shall receive and publicly open the bids thereon. The board shall, by resolution, determine the highest and best bid submitted for the land and shall thereupon notify the former owner, his/her heirs or devisees, by registered mail of the land to be sold and the highest and best bid received therefor, and the former owner, or his/her heirs or devisees, shall have the exclusive right at his/her or their option for a period of thirty (30) days in which to meet such highest and best bid and to purchase such property.

(w) To prevent or aid in the prevention of damage to person or property from the waters of the Mississippi River or any of its tributaries.

(x) To acquire by purchase, lease, gift or in any other manner (otherwise than by condemnation) and to maintain, use and operate all property of any kind, real, personal or mixed, or any interest therein within the project area, within or without the boundaries of the district, necessary for the project and convenient to the exercise of the powers, rights, privileges and functions conferred upon the district by this article.

(y) In the purchase of or in the entering into of all lease purchase agreements for supplies, equipment, heavy equipment and the like, the directors shall in all instances comply with the provisions of law pertaining to public purchases by public bids on these supplies and equipment.

(z) Receive and accept from any source aid or contributions of money, property, labor or other things of value to be held, used and applied to carry out the purposes of this act including, but not limited to gifts or grants from any department, agency or instrumentality of the United States of America;

(aa) To enter into agreements with any department, agency or instrumentality of the United States of America or of the state and with lenders and enter into loans with contracting parties for the purpose of planning, regulating and providing for the financing or assisting in the financing of any eligible business or any project thereof;

(bb) To enter into contracts or agreements with lenders for the servicing and processing of loans or both;

(cc) To provide technical assistance to local industrial development authorities and to profit and nonprofit entities in the development or operation by, or assistance to, persons engaged in business enterprises and distribute data and information concerning the encouragement and improvement of business enterprises in the state.

(2) The board of directors shall prepare annually a five-year plan containing a prioritized list detailing the purposes, goals and projected costs of projects which it intends to implement or is in the process of implementing and shall file such plans with the clerk of the board of supervisors of each member county on or before July 15 of each year.

(3) The board of directors, after completion of the annual audit of the district and upon receipt of the written report thereon, shall file a copy of such audit with the clerk of the board of supervisors of each member county.

SECTION 6. The Mississippi River Delta Management District is authorized to establish or otherwise provide for public parks and recreation facilities and for the preservation of fish and wildlife, and to acquire land otherwise than by condemnation except as provided in subsection (e) of Section 5 of this act for such purposes, within the project area.

SECTION 7. The district is empowered to obtain through appropriate hearings an appropriation permit or permits from the Board of Water Commissioners of the State of Mississippi.

SECTION 8. The board of directors of the district is hereby authorized and empowered to borrow money or issue bonds of the district for the purpose of paying the cost of acquiring, owning, constructing, operating, repairing, and maintaining the projects and works specified herein, including related facilities and including all financing and financial advisory charges, interest during construction, engineering, architectural, legal, and other expenses incidental to and necessary for the foregoing or for the carrying out of any power conferred by this article. Said board of directors is authorized and empowered to borrow money and issue bonds at such times and in such amounts as shall be provided for by resolution of the said board of directors, not to exceed the limitation prescribed in Section 10 of this act. All such bonds so issued by said district shall be secured solely by a pledge of the net revenues which may now or hereafter come to the district, and by the pledge of the avails of the three-fourths mill ad valorem tax levy provided for in Section 4 of this act. Such bonds shall not constitute general obligations of the State of Mississippi or of the counties comprising said district, and such bonds shall not be secured by a pledge of the full faith, credit, and resources of said state or of said counties. Bonds of the district shall not be included in computing any present or future debt limit of any county in such district under any present or future law. "Revenues" as used in this article shall mean all charges, rentals, tolls, rates, gifts, grants, avails of tax levies, monies, and all other funds coming into the possession of the district by virtue of the provisions of this article, except the proceeds from the sale of bonds issued hereunder. "Net revenues" as used in this article shall mean the revenues after payments of costs and expenses of operation and maintenance of the project and related facilities.

SECTION 9. All such bonds provided for by Section 8 of this act shall be negotiable instruments within the meaning of the Uniform Commercial Code of this state, shall be lithographed or engraved and printed in two (2) or more colors to prevent counterfeiting, shall be in denominations of not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) nor more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), shall be registered as issued, and shall be numbered in a regular series from one (1) upward. Each such bond shall specify on its face the purpose for which it was issued and the total amount authorized to be issued, it shall be payable to bearer, and the interest to accrue thereon shall be evidenced by proper coupons to be attached thereto. Such bonds shall not bear a greater overall maximum interest rate to maturity than that allowed in Section 75-17-101. They shall mature annually in such amounts and at such times as shall be provided by the resolution of the board of directors. No bond shall have a longer maturity than twenty (20) years, and the first maturity date thereof shall be not more than five (5) years from the date of such bonds. The denomination, form and place or places of payment of such bonds shall be fixed in the resolution of the board of directors of the district. Such bonds shall be signed by the president and the secretary of such board with the seal of the district affixed thereto, but the coupons may bear only the facsimile signatures of such president and secretary. All interest accruing on such bonds so issued shall be payable semiannually, except that the first interest coupon attached to any such bond may be for a period not exceeding one (1) year.

Such bonds may be called in, paid and redeemed in inverse numerical order on any interest date prior to maturity, upon not less than thirty (30) days' notice to the paying agent or agents designated in such bonds, and at such premium as may be designated in such bonds.

All such bonds shall contain in substance a statement to the effect that they are secured solely by a pledge of the net revenues of such district, including the avails of the two-mill ad valorem tax levy provided for in Section 4 of this act, and that they do not constitute general obligations of the State of Mississippi or of the counties comprising said district, and are not secured by a pledge of the full faith, credit and resources of said state or of such counties.

All such bonds as provided for herein shall be sold for not less than par value plus accrued interest at public sale in the manner provided by Section 31-19-25. No such sale shall be at a price so low as to require the payment of interest on the money received therefor at more than eleven percent (11%) per annum computed with relation to the absolute maturity of the bonds, in accordance with standard tables of bond values, excluding from such computation the amount of any premium to be paid on redemption of any bonds prior to maturity.

This article shall be full and complete authority for the issuance of the bonds provided for herein, and no restriction or limitation otherwise prescribed by law shall apply herein.

Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, bonds referred to hereinabove may be issued pursuant to the supplemental powers and authorizations conferred by the provisions of the Registered Bond Act, being Sections 31-21-1 through 31-21-7.

SECTION 10. Bonds and other indebtedness issued or incurred pursuant to this article shall not exceed Seven Million Dollars ($7,000,000.00) in principal amount.

SECTION 11. The board of directors shall not borrow money or issue bonds of the district unless sixty percent (60%) of the entire membership of the board of directors votes in favor of such action after thirty (30) days' written notice to the chancery clerks and presidents of the boards of supervisors of the member counties of the date upon which such vote will be taken.

SECTION 12. The board of supervisors of each county that is a member of the Mississippi River Delta Management District shall pay to the district depository a sum not more than is necessary to defray the annual principal and interest due on outstanding indebtedness of the district, not to exceed an amount equal to the avails of one-half (1/2) of one (1) mill of the total assessed valuation of the member county. Such payments shall be continued as long as there remains unpaid and outstanding any bonded indebtedness created by the district board as hereinafter provided. Any such board of supervisors shall provide the sum herein required either by appropriation from any available funds of the county or by levy.

SECTION 13. All bonds issued pursuant to this article shall be validated as now provided by law of Sections 31-13-1 to 31-13-11, Mississippi Code of 1972. The services of the state's bond attorney may be employed in the preparation of such bond resolutions, forms, or proceedings as may be necessary, for which he shall be paid a reasonable fee. Such validation proceedings shall be instituted in the chancery court of the county in which the principal office of the district is located, but notice of such validation proceedings shall be published at least two (2) times in a newspaper of general circulation and published in each of the counties comprising the Mississippi River Delta Management District, the first publication of which in each case shall be made at least ten (10) days preceding the date set for the validation.

SECTION 14. At the discretion of the board of directors of the district any bonds provided for in Section 8 of this act may be further secured by a trust agreement between the board of directors and a corporate trustee, which may be any trust company or bank having powers of a trust company within or without the state. Any such trust agreement or any resolution providing for the issuance of such bonds may contain such provisions for protecting and enforcing the rights and remedies of the bondholders as are reasonable and proper and not in violation of law. The trust agreement may contain provision for the issuance of additional bonds for any of the purposes authorized by this article which shall be secured by the revenues pledged thereunder for such bonds to the extent provided therein. The trust agreement may include provisions to the effect that if there is any default in the payment of principal or interest on any of said bonds, any court having jurisdiction of the action may appoint a receiver to administer the properties and facilities of the district, including authority to sell or make contracts for the sale of any services, facilities, or commodities of the district or to renew such contracts, subject to the approval of the court appointing said receiver; and with power to provide for the payment of such bonds outstanding or the payment of operating expenses, and to apply the income and revenues to the payment of said bonds and interest thereon in accordance with the resolution of the board of directors authorizing the issuance of such bonds and said trust agreement. However, the fee for the services of any corporate trustee shall not exceed the normal charges for acting as paying agent plus any additional amount or amounts allowed by the court as the reasonable value of services rendered by the corporate trustee upon default in the payment of principal and interest on the bonds.

SECTION 15. The board of directors of the district is hereby authorized to provide by resolution for the issuance of refunding bonds of the district for the purpose of refunding any bonds then outstanding and issued under authority of this article, including the payment of any redemption premium thereon and any interest accrued or to accrue to the date of redemption of such bonds. The issuance of such refunding bonds, the maturity, and other details thereof, and the rights, duties, and obligations of the board of trustees and of the district in respect to such bonds shall be governed by the provisions of this article, insofar as they are applicable. In no event shall such bonds mature over a period of time exceeding twenty (20) years from January 1, 1998.

SECTION 16. All bonds of the district are hereby declared to be legal and authorized investments for public funds of counties, cities, towns, school districts, banks, savings banks, trust companies, building and loan associations, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, and for funds of the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System. Such bonds shall be eligible to secure the deposit of any and all public funds of cities, towns, villages, counties, school districts, or other political corporations or subdivisions of the State of Mississippi; and such bonds shall be lawful and sufficient security for said deposits to the extent of their value, when accompanied by all unmatured coupons appurtenant thereto.

SECTION 17. (a) The board of directors shall designate one or more qualified state depositories within the district to serve as depositories for the funds of the district, and all funds of the district other than funds required by any trust agreement to be deposited, from time to time, with the trustee or any paying agent for outstanding bonds of the district, shall be deposited in such depository or depositories. Any such designated depository shall be eligible to hold funds of the district to the extent that it is qualified as a depository for state funds.

(b) Before designating a depository or depositories, the board of directors shall issue a notice stating the time and place the board will meet for such purpose and inviting the qualified state depositories in the district to submit applications to be designated depositories. The term of service for depositories shall be prescribed by the board. Such notice shall be published one (1) time in a newspaper or newspapers published in the district and specified by the board.

(c) At the time mentioned in the notice, the board shall consider the applications and the management and conditions of the depositories which offer the most favorable terms and conditions for the handling of the funds of the district, and which the board finds have proper management and are in condition to warrant handling of district funds in the manner as provided under the chapter on depositories. Membership on the board of directors of an officer or director of a depository shall not disqualify such depository from being designated as a depository.

(d) If no applications acceptable to the board are received by the time stated in the notice, the board shall designate some qualified state depository or depositories within the district upon such terms and conditions as it may find advantageous to the district. Any such designated depository shall be eligible to hold funds of the district to the extent that it is qualified as a depository for state funds.

SECTION 18. The accomplishment of the purposes stated in this article being for the benefit of the people of this state and for the improvement of their properties and industries, the district in carrying out the purposes of this article will be performing an essential public function and shall not be required to pay any tax or assessment on the projects and related facilities or any part thereof; and the interest on the bonds issued hereunder shall at all times be free from taxation within this state. The state hereby covenants with the holders of any bonds to be issued hereunder that the Mississippi River Delta Management District shall not be required to pay any taxes or assessments imposed by the state or any of its political subdivisions or taxing districts.

SECTION 19. The provisions of any other law, general, special, or local, except as provided in this article, shall not limit or restrict the powers granted by this article. The water management district herein provided for shall not be subject to regulation or control by the Public Service Commission.

SECTION 20. The board of directors of the Mississippi River Delta Management District is hereby authorized and empowered to negotiate and contract with the United States of America, or any agency thereof, concerning all lands, easements, and rights-of-way necessary for the relocation of any federal road, highway, parkway, or for the facilities appurtenant thereto.

SECTION 21. The Mississippi River Delta Management District shall have authority to act jointly with political subdivisions of the state and agencies, commissions, and instrumentalities thereof, and with the Federal Government and other agencies thereof in the performance of the purposes and services authorized in this article, upon such terms as may be agreed upon by the directors.

The board of directors of the district shall have the authority to negotiate and contract with the Secretary of the Army under the provisions of Public Law 653, 85th Congress, or other applicable law or regulation written pursuant thereto.

SECTION 22. Any municipality or county which is within the territorial limits of the district may advance funds to said district to pay the preliminary expenses, including engineers' reports, organization, or administration expenses, on such terms of repayment as the governing body of such municipality or county shall determine. Notwithstanding the provisions of any law to the contrary, any such municipality or county is authorized and empowered to borrow money for a period not to exceed one (1) year from the date of such borrowing, for the purpose of making such advances. The board of directors is hereby authorized to repay any such advances from the proceeds of any bonds issued under the provisions of this article.

SECTION 23. Nothing in this article shall be construed to violate any provisions of the federal or state constitutions, and all acts done under this article shall be done in such manner as will conform thereto, whether herein expressly provided or not. Where any procedure hereunder may be held by any court to be violative of either of such constitutions, the district shall have the power by resolution to provide any alternative procedure conformable with such constitutions. If any provisions of this article shall be invalid, such fact shall not affect the creation of the district or the validity of any other provision of this article.

SECTION 24. The Mississippi River Delta Management District is authorized to utilize money out of the proceeds of bonds authorized to be issued under this act to be made available as interest-bearing loans to private businesses to aid in the establishment of business incubation centers and the creation of new and expanding manufacturing and technology-based business and industry.

In exercising the power given it under this section, the department shall work in conjunction with the University Research Center and may contract with the center to provide space and assistance to business incubation centers.

The district shall establish criteria and guidelines made pursuant to this section.

SECTION 25. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.