2000 Regular Session
To: Local and Private Legislation; Ways and Means
By: Representatives Simpson, Barnett (116th), Creel, Dedeaux, Fredericks, Guice, Ishee, Janus, Peranich
House Bill 1737
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 1013, LOCAL AND PRIVATE LAWS OF 1999, TO REORGANIZE AND RECONSTITUTE THE HARRISON COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION OF HARRISON COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, TO REDEFINE CERTAIN POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE HARRISON COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION AND ITS COMMISSIONERS; TO AUTHORIZE THE HARRISON COUNTY TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION TO ISSUE BONDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF ACQUIRING, DESIGNING, CONSTRUCTING, EQUIPPING, FURNISHING, REPAIRING, REMODELING OR IMPROVING ROADS, AIRPORTS, MASS TRANSIT, RAILWAYS AND OTHER TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS AND RELATED FACILITIES AND IMPROVEMENTS AND ACQUIRING LAND FOR THE ROADS, AIRPORTS, MASS TRANSIT, RAILWAYS AND OTHER FACILITIES AND IMPROVEMENTS; TO AUTHORIZE THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE COUNTY UPON APPROVAL BY THE ELECTORATE OF THE COUNTY TO LEVY UP TO A 1% TAX, TO BE KNOWN AS A TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT FEE, ON SALES AND SERVICES IN THE COUNTY, EXCEPT FOR SALES OF GROCERIES AND MEDICINES, TO SECURE THE PAYMENT OF THE PRINCIPAL OF AND THE INTEREST ON THE BONDS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE TERMS OF THE BONDS; TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSION TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS WITH RESPECT TO ROADS, AIRPORTS, MASS TRANSIT, RAILWAYS AND OTHER TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS AND RELATED FACILITIES AND IMPROVEMENTS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE TERMINATION OF THE TAX; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Chapter 1013, Local and Private Laws of 1999, is amended as follows:
Section 1. Whenever used in this act, unless a different meaning clearly appears in the context, the following * * * terms shall be given the following * * * meanings * * *:
(a) "Airport" means the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport or ancillary facilities in Harrison County, Mississippi.
(b) "Board of supervisors" means the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, Mississippi.
(c) "Bonds" means notes, bonds and other obligations authorized to be issued under this act.
(d) "County" means Harrison County, Mississippi.
(e) "Commission" means the Harrison County Transportation Commission as created by this chapter and any reorganization and reconstitution of the commission under any subsequent law.
(f) "Commissioners" or "directors" means the persons appointed to vote as members of the Board of Directors of the Harrison County Transportation Commission.
(g) "Governing body" means the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, Mississippi.
(h) "Municipalities" means the City of Biloxi, Mississippi, the City of Gulfport, Mississippi, the City of D'Iberville, Mississippi, the City of Long Beach, Mississippi, and the City of Pass Christian, Mississippi.
(i) "Project" means any one or more roads; bridges; passenger railways; freight railways; multi-modal transportation facilities; mass transit and other surface transportation rights-of-way, improvements, equipment and facilities of all kinds; parking facilities; airport improvements and ancillary facilities; passenger terminals; and related personal and real property, facilities and improvements, and the land on which such facilities and improvements are located.
(j) "System" or "systems" means the combined transportation systems of Harrison County.
(k) "Transit Authority" or "Coast Transit Authority" means the Mississippi Coast Transportation Authority.
(l) "Transportation routes and facilities" means all * * * transportation routes or any one or more transportation project or projects and support facilities, for present and future transportation needs of any kind, within the territorial boundaries of Harrison County, Mississippi.
Section 2. There is hereby created and established the Harrison County Transportation Commission. The commission shall be deemed to be acting in all respects for the benefit of the people of Harrison County in the performance of essential public functions as it seeks to plan, promote and develop needed transportation routes and facilities within Harrison County and its municipalities.
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Section 3. The commission shall be empowered, in accordance with the provisions of this act, to promote the general transportation needs of Harrison County and its citizens. In addition to any other powers authorized by law or this act, the commission shall have the following powers:
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(a) To apply and contract for and accept any grants or gifts or loans or appropriations of funds or property or financial or other aid in any form from the United States or any instrumentality thereof, or from the State of Mississippi or any instrumentality thereof, or from any source, public or private and to comply with and make agreements with respect to the terms and conditions thereof, subject to any agreements with bondholders;
(b) To employ architects, engineers, attorneys, financial advisors and such other consultants as it deems proper; to fix and pay their compensation and appoint and retain such officers, agents and employees as it deems proper; and to fix and pay their compensation;
(c) To maintain an office or offices at such place or places within the county as it may determine;
(d) To plan, develop, acquire, construct, reconstruct, operate, own, manage, lease (as lessor or lessee), convey, sell or otherwise dispose of, participate in, maintain, repair, extend or improve one or more projects for one or more roads or other transportation routes and facilities, whether or not such projects, routes or facilities are or are to be owned by the commission or whether or not such facilities are or are to be owned by any other person;
(e) To acquire, own, hold, use, lease (as lessor or lessee), convey, sell or otherwise dispose of, mortgage, pledge or grant a security interest in any real or personal property, contract commodity or service or interest therein;
(f) To make and enforce, and from time to time amend and repeal, bylaws, rules and regulations for the management of its business and affairs and for the use, maintenance and operation of any of its roads or other facilities;
(g) To borrow money and to issue bonds for any of its purposes, to provide for and secure the payment thereof, and to provide for the rights of the holders thereof;
(h) To procure insurance against any loss in connection with its property, other assets and business in such amounts and from such insurers as it may deem necessary or desirable;
(i) To enter on any lands, waters or premises for the purpose of making surveys, borings, soundings and examinations for the purposes of the commission;
(j) To acquire in the name of the governing body, by eminent domain proceedings, if authorized by resolution of the governing body under Section 30 of this act, such property designated by the commission to sufficiently accommodate the location of roads or other transportation facilities pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 27, Title 11, Mississippi Code of 1972;
(k) To do and perform any acts and things authorized by this act under, through or by means of its officers, agents and employees, or by contracts with any person; * * *
(l) To enter into any and all contracts, execute any and all instruments and do and perform any and all acts or things necessary, convenient or desirable for the purposes of the commission or to carry out any power expressly granted by this act;
(m) To make loans or grants to the Coast Transit Authority, the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority, the State Port at Gulfport, any municipal port commission, any municipality within Harrison County, the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, and any other governmental entity for the purpose of any project or projects for transportation routes and facilities owned or operated by either of these authorities; and
(n) To enter into Interlocal Agreements pursuant to Section 17-31-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972 (Chapter 498, Laws, 1974 as amended).
Section 4. The board of supervisors and the governing authorities of the municipalities, in their discretion, by resolution duly adopted and entered upon their respective minutes, may:
(a) Contribute, out of any available funds, any amount to support the work of the commission or to support any project or projects of the commission. Such contributions may be paid according to an agreed upon schedule approved by the commission, the board of supervisors and the governing authorities of the municipalities;
(b) Use equipment and personnel of the board of supervisors and the governing authorities of the municipalities in the support, promotion and development of the work and purpose of the commission, as may be necessary or desirable.
Section 5. The commission, and all its powers and duties, shall be vested in a fifteen-person board of directors, who shall also be known as commissioners, which shall consist of the five (5) members of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors; the mayor of each of the five (5) municipalities; and five (5) members from the city councils of the municipalities within Harrison County who shall be the president of the city council from each city under the mayor-council form of government and, from each city under another form, shall be a councilman or alderman selected by the members of the council or board of aldermen, respectively. * * * Each director may appoint a voting delegate to represent him or her, when absent, at a meeting or meetings of the board of directors.
Section 6. The business and affairs of the commission shall be managed by its board of directors and through its executive and legislative committees. The directors in all cases shall act as a board and speak through the board's written minutes. The act of the majority of the board of directors of the commission present at a meeting at which a quorum, composed of a majority of the directors, is present shall be the act of the directors for all matters except as follows:
(a) Executive committee. The executive committee shall be composed of the five (5) mayors of the municipalities of Harrison County and the President of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors. The members of the committee shall select a chairman to preside over the committee, who shall serve as cochairman of the full board of directors. The executive committee shall be responsible for overseeing the work of the executive director and all employees, and shall have the authority to recommend the hiring and removal of an executive director to the full board of directors. The daily operation of the commission and its executive director's staff and employees shall be subject to the supervision and direction of the executive committee. All actions of the executive committee shall be decided by a favorable vote of four (4) members.
(b) Legislative committee. The legislative committee shall be composed of the members of the board of directors who are city councilmen and aldermen and all five (5) supervisors. The legislative committee shall select a chairman to preside over the committee and who shall serve as cochairman of the full board of directors. The legislative committee shall be responsible for making recommendations on all policy decisions involving requests for legislation from the Mississippi Legislature, and contracts, budgets, audits, rules and regulations of the commission. All actions of the legislative committee shall require a vote of seven (7) members. The legislative committee also shall approve all expenditures before presentation to the full board of directors for a vote, at which time all expenditures in excess of Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) shall require two-thirds (2/3) vote of all members of the board of directors. All expenditures less than Twenty-five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) shall require a majority vote of all members of the board of directors. The legislative committee shall maintain a docket of claims, and approve them for presentation to the full board. All actions of the legislative committee shall be decided by a favorable vote of seven (7) members.
(c) Full board of directors. The executive and legislative committees shall meet jointly as a full board of directors at the regular and special meetings of the board, and may take up matters within their jurisdictions on the agenda under the reports of executive and legislative committees. The full board may make recommendations at that time by forming into committee session with all members of the board of directors being allowed to participate in the discussion and deliberation of any matters coming before either of the committees.
Section 7. The officers of the commission shall be the chairman of the executive committee, the chairman of the legislative committee, a secretary, a treasurer and an executive director. The executive director and the secretary shall be elected by a majority of the board of directors. Such other officers and assistant officers as may be deemed necessary may be elected or appointed by the board of directors of the commission. The chairmen of the executive and legislative committees shall be cochairmen of the full board of directors. The cochairmen shall on alternate meetings serve as presiding officer of the meeting of the full board of directors, beginning with the chairman of the executive committee at the regular meeting in April of each year.
Section 8. The officers of the commission to be elected by the board of directors shall be elected annually at the regular meeting of the board of directors held in April of each year. Each officer shall hold office until his successor shall have been duly elected and shall have qualified, or until his death or until he shall resign or shall have been removed in the manner hereinafter provided. Any officer elected or appointed by the board of directors may be removed by a two-thirds (2/3) majority of the board of directors whenever in their judgment the best interests of the commission would be served thereby. A vacancy in any office because of death, resignation, removal, disqualification or otherwise may be filled by the board of directors for the unexpired portion of the term.
Section 9. The executive director shall be the principal executive officer of the commission and, subject to the direction of the executive committee of the commission, shall in general supervise and direct all of the business and affairs of the commission.
Section 10. The chairman of the executive committee also shall be known as the chairman of the commission and may sign, with the secretary or treasurer or any other proper officer of the commission thereunto authorized by the board of directors, any deeds, mortgages, bonds, contracts or other instruments which the board of directors have authorized to be executed, except in cases where the signing and execution thereof shall be expressly delegated by the board of directors to the executive director or to some other officer or agent of the commission, or shall be required by law to be otherwise signed or executed; and in general shall perform all duties incident to the office of executive director in the absence, vacancy or incapacity of the executive director, and such other duties as may be prescribed by the board of directors from time to time.
Section 11. The chairman of the legislative committee shall preside over meetings of the legislative committee.
Section 12. The Chancery Clerk of Harrison County shall be the treasurer. He shall have charge and custody of and be responsible for all funds and securities of the commission, receive and give receipts for monies due and payable to the commission from any source whatsoever, deposit all such monies in the name of the commission in such banks, trust companies or other depositories as shall be selected in accordance with these bylaws and state law, and in general perform all of the duties incident to the office of treasurer and such other duties as from time to time may be assigned to him by the board of directors. All commission funds shall be kept in an appropriate depository under the supervision of the Chancery Clerk of Harrison County, Mississippi, who shall cause a complete annual review of the books of accounts of the commission and provide a copy of such review to the board of supervisors and the governing authorities of the municipalities of Harrison County, Mississippi.
Section 13. The salaries and employee benefits of the executive director and other employees shall be fixed from time to time by the board of directors, upon recommendation of two-thirds (2/3) majority of the legislative committee.
Section 14. A two-thirds (2/3) majority of the board of directors of the commission, upon recommendation of two-thirds (2/3) majority of the legislative committee present and voting, may authorize the chairman of the commission or the executive director and secretary to enter into any contract or execute and deliver any instrument in the name of and on behalf of the commission, and such authority may be general or confined to specific instances. No loans shall be contracted on behalf of the commission and no evidences of indebtedness shall be issued in its name unless authorized by a resolution adopted by two-thirds (2/3) of the board of directors of the commission, upon recommendation of the two-thirds (2/3) majority of the legislative committee present and voting. Such authority may be general or confined to specific instances. All checks, drafts or other orders for the payment of money, notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued in the name of the commission, shall be signed by the executive director and treasurer of the commission and paid in such manner as shall from time to time be determined by resolution of the board of directors, upon recommendation of two-thirds (2/3) majority of the legislative committee present and voting.
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* * * The commission shall adopt a set of bylaws, which may include such provisions that it deems appropriate, but shall include provisions for the following:
(a) Procedures and times for its meetings, following Roberts Rules of Order, and complying with the Open Meetings Law of Mississippi, Section 25-41-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972.
(b) Making a bimonthly written report to the board of supervisors and the governing authorities of the municipalities as to the current operational and financial status of the commission.
(c) Providing that all commission funds shall be kept in an appropriate depository under the supervision of the Chancery Clerk of Harrison County, Mississippi, who shall * * * cause a complete annual review of the books and accounts of the commission and provide a copy of such review to the Board of Supervisors and the governing authorities of the municipalities of Harrison County, Mississippi.
Section 16. (1) It is hereby determined and declared to be in the best interest of the people of the county and the surrounding area to provide an adequate public transportation system in Harrison County. It is in the public interest that the county's critical transportation needs be met and that the transportation problems which exist in the county and surrounding area be alleviated. The construction of one or more projects will secure the maintenance and improvement of the living conditions of the people of the Mississippi coastal area, the continuation of industrial, commercial and economic opportunities in the area and the enhancement of the health and welfare of the area's people, in the years to come.
(2) The commission shall endeavor to alleviate the county's transportation problems through cooperative efforts and agreements for the benefit of communities in the county.
Section 17. (1) The commission is hereby authorized to issue bonds of the commission, from time to time, to raise money for the acquisition of property, the payment of engineering, legal and other professional fees related to the acquisition of property and the planning and design of projects and the supervision of construction, and the construction of one or more projects and payment of interest on bonds, establishment of reserves to secure such bonds and payment of expenses incident to the issuance of such bonds and to the implementation of such projects. The bonds shall be general obligations of the commission, but shall not be considered when computing any limitation of indebtedness of the county or any municipality established by law.
(2) No funds collected by the commission from the transportation improvement fee described in this act and no bond funds authorized by this act shall pay for (a) general administration of the commission, or (b) for maintenance of projects. General administration of the commission and maintenance of projects may be paid from funds loaned or granted to the commission by Harrison County, the municipalities within Harrison County, or any other federal, state or local governmental agency or private entity. Projects owned by a governmental agency other than the commission shall be maintained by such other agency.
Section 18. Before any special sales tax known as the transportation improvement fee is imposed under this act and before any bonds are issued under this act, the electors of the county shall have approved by a favorable vote of at least sixty percent (60%) of qualified electors voting in an election the imposition of the tax. Any bonds issued under this act, other than refunding bonds, shall be issued in accordance with the provisions of Article 5, Chapter 33, Title 21, Mississippi Code of 1972, except that if such provisions conflict with the provisions of this act, the provisions of this act shall prevail. The full faith, credit and resources of the commission shall be irrevocably pledged for the payment of the principal of and interest on the bonds.
Section 19. (1) Before any bonds shall be issued under this act, the imposition of a special sales tax, which is hereby authorized and shall be known as a transportation improvement fee in Harrison County, shall have been approved at an election to be held in the county in the manner now provided by law for the holding of county elections. The special sales tax shall be in addition to all other taxes now imposed, and shall be in an amount of up to a total of one percent (1%) upon all sales and services, except for sales of groceries and medicines, within the county which are subject to the general rate of state sales tax. The election shall be held after three (3) weeks' notice thereof by publication of the proposition at least once a week for three (3) consecutive weeks in some newspaper published in the county or having a general circulation therein. The call for the election shall be made by the Harrison County Board of Supervisors if requested by a written recommendation adopted by the commission. At the election, all qualified electors of the county may vote. If sixty percent (60%) of the qualified electors of the county voting in the election vote in favor of the proposition, then the special sales tax may be imposed in accordance with this section and Section 25 of this act. The amount of the sales tax to be imposed, which may be less than the maximum amount authorized to be imposed in this subsection, shall be determined by the commission and described in the notice of such election.
(2) The imposition of the special sales tax known as the transportation improvement fee and the authorization of the issuance of bonds under this act may occur one or more times, provided that each imposition of the tax and each issuance of bonds is authorized by the favorable vote of sixty percent (60%) of the qualified electors of the county voting in favor of the proposition to impose the tax and to authorize bonds to be sold to be funded by the tax. Further, each imposition by election of the tax and each issuance of bonds thereunder shall comply with the following conditions:
(a) The first referendum on the proposition for or against the initial imposition of the special sales tax under this act and the first bonds issued thereunder, if any, shall be for the sole purpose of funding projects, as defined in paragraph (i) of Section 1 of this act, to construct an East-West Transportation Corridor for Harrison County, as defined by the commission in the request for such election recommended by the commission to the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County. The description of the proposition for the election for the projects to construct an East-West Transportation Corridor shall describe in detail the total budget for the projects and shall describe in detail the amount of the total budget to be funded by cash received directly from collection of the special sales taxes imposed before issuing bonds and the total amount of the budget to be funded by proceeds of bonds sold, if any, under the authority of such election.
(b) No subsequent referendum to impose the tax and authorize the issuance of bonds thereunder shall be recommended by the commission for an election on any proposition until the taxes collected and deposited to the special account provided for in the act shall, for projects authorized in Section 19(2)(a) for the East-West Transportation Corridor, be in an amount sufficient (i) to pay for all remaining debts budgeted to be paid from cash collected from the imposition of the tax the issuance of bonds, (ii) to pay for all debt service of principal and interest due or to be due on the bonds and (iii) to pay for and fully fund all reserve funds and other surplus or special funds required by the bond covenants, in order to secure the full and complete payment of all obligations under the construction budget for such projects and all obligations under such bonds before the call for any such subsequent election on a proposition to impose the tax for the purposes of any project or set of projects thereafter.
(c) On each occasion that the commission may recommend to the board of supervisors to call an election as contemplated under paragraph (b) of this subsection, the commission shall describe the project or set of projects that constitute the proposition to be put to an election, and, if the reimposition of the tax is authorized by a favorable vote of sixty percent (60%) of the qualified electors of the county voting in such election, funds collected from the tax and the bonds authorized by such election shall be used only for the projects described in the proposition which was the subject of such election.
(3) The tax imposed under this section and Section 25 of this act shall terminate and cease to be collected upon certification to the State Tax Commission by the Treasurer of the State of Mississippi that the taxes collected and deposited to the special account for the East-West Transportation Corridor bonds authorized in Section 19(2)(a) shall be in an amount sufficient to pay for all remaining debt service of principal and interest due or to be due on the bonds and to pay for and fully fund all reserve funds and other surplus or special funds required by the bond covenants, in order to secure the full and complete payment of all obligations under the bonds. However, the tax may be imposed again at anytime not later than two (2) years after the date of such certification by the Treasurer of the State of Mississippi, if it is imposed in accordance with subsections (2)(b) and (2)(c) of this section. For any one or more impositions of the tax subsequent to the initial imposition under subsection (2)(a) of this section, the tax shall terminate and cease to be collected after each such imposition upon certification to the State Tax Commission by the Treasurer of the State of Mississippi that the taxes collected and deposited to the special account for such bonds shall be in an amount sufficient to pay for all remaining debt service of principal and interest due or to be due on the bonds and to pay for and fully fund all reserve funds and other surplus or special funds required by the bond covenants, in order to secure the full and complete payment of all obligations under such bonds.
Section 20. Bonds issued under this act may be issued as registered bonds under the provisions of Chapter 21, Title 31, Mississippi Code of 1972, or in bearer form either as to principal or interest or both, and may contain such covenants and provisions, may be issued as term or serial bonds, in one or more series, may be executed and delivered at any time, and from time to time, may be in such form and denomination, may be of such tenor, may be payable in such installments and at such time or times, not exceeding twenty-five (25) years from their date, may be payable at such place or places and evidenced in such manner, may be callable with or without premium, may bear such rate or rates of interest and may contain such other provisions not inconsistent herewith, all as shall be provided in the proceedings of the governing bodies whereunder the bonds shall be directed to be issued. Bonds issued under this act may be sold either at public sale in the manner provided by Section 31-19-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, or at private sale, in the discretion of the governing body.
Section 21. No bond issued under this act shall bear a greater overall maximum interest rate to maturity than that allowed in Section 75-17-101, Mississippi Code of 1972, and no bond may bear more than one (1) rate of interest; each bond shall bear interest from its date to its stated maturity date at the interest rate specified in the bonds; all bonds of the same maturity shall bear the same rate of interest from date to maturity. All interest accruing on bonds issued under this act shall be payable semiannually or annually, except that the first interest payment for any bond may be for any period not exceeding one (1) year. No interest payment shall be evidenced by more than one (1) coupon and neither canceled nor supplemental coupons shall be permitted. The lowest interest rate specified for any bonds sold shall not be less than seventy percent (70%) of the highest rate specified for the same bond issue.
Section 22. Bonds issued under this act shall be executed on behalf of the commission by the manual or facsimile seal of the commission affixed or imprinted thereon. At least one (1) signature on each bond shall be a manual signature, whether of the chairman of the commission, the executive director of the commission, or authenticating agent. If the officers whose signatures or countersignatures appear on the bonds or interest coupons shall cease to be such officers before delivery of the bonds, such signatures or countersignatures shall nevertheless be valid and sufficient for all purposes the same as if they had remained in the office until such delivery.
Section 23. Bonds issued under this act and all interest coupons applicable thereto shall be construed to be negotiable instruments, despite the fact that they are payable solely from a specified source, and shall be securities within the meaning of Article 8 of the Mississippi Uniform Commercial Code.
Section 24. (1) The principal proceeds received upon the sale of the bonds shall be deposited with a qualified depository of the county in a special fund in the name of the commission from which there shall be first paid all expenses, premiums, fees and commissions incurred by the commission and deemed necessary or advantageous by the commission in connection with the authorization, issuance, sale, validation and delivery of the bonds.
(2) The balance of such proceeds shall be paid to the commission and deposited with a qualified depository of the commission. Such funds shall be held and disbursed for any one or more projects authorized in the proposition which was the subject of the election imposing the tax to fund such bonds and may be used (a) for the project, (b) to pay interest on the bonds while the project is being completed and for a maximum of six (6) months after the estimated date of completion, (c) to pay engineering, fiscal, trustee, printing, accounting, financial advisor, construction manager, feasibility consultant and legal expenses, and development expenses incurred in connection with such project, and related structures and facilities, and the issuance of the bonds, (d) to provide for the establishment of a reasonable reserve fund for the payment of principal of and interest on the bonds in the event of a deficiency in the revenues and receipts available for such payments, if such fund is provided for in the proceedings of the governing body in connection with the issuance of bonds, (e) to pay the premium or premiums on any insurance or any form of guarantee obtained from any source to assure the prompt payment of principal and interest when due, (f) to pay start-up costs of the project and related structures and facilities while it is being established, erected, built, constructed, replaced, remodeled, renovated, added to, equipped or furnished and for a maximum of thirty-six (36) months after the estimated date of completion, (g) to provide for the payment of interim indebtedness incurred before the issuance of any bonds under this act and used for the purposes set forth above, and (h) costs related to any suits and proceedings in connection with the project, including any costs of settlement thereof.
Section 25. (1) On or before the fifteenth day before the imposition of the special sales tax known as the transportation improvement fee authorized in Section 19 of this act, the governing body shall give written notification to the Chairman of the State Tax Commission of the date on which the special sales tax will become effective.
(2) Such tax shall be collected in the same manner as the state sales tax imposed by Chapter 65, Title 27, Mississippi Code of 1972, and shall be accounted for separately from the amount of sales tax collected for the state in the county. All provisions of the State Sales Tax Law applicable to filing of such returns, discounts to the taxpayer, remittances to the State Tax Commission and retainage thereby of sums to defray the costs of collection, collection enforcement, rights of taxpayers, recovery of improper taxes, refunds of overpaid taxes or other provisions of said chapter providing for imposition and collection of the sales tax shall apply to the tax authorized by this act.
(3) On or before the fifteenth day of each month, the revenue from the special sales tax collected under the provisions of this section during the preceding month shall be paid and distributed to the trustee provided in Section 27 of this act on behalf of the commission, or if there be no bonds outstanding and no trustee, then to the commission by payment to the Chancery Clerk of Harrison County.
Section 26. (1) Bonds issued under this act may be refunded at any time and from time to time by the commission pursuant to an authorizing resolution of the commission, directing issuance of refunding bonds in accordance with the Mississippi Bond Refinancing Act, Section 31-27-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972.
(2) The commission shall have authority to enter into an investment agreement with a financial institution incorporated under the laws of the United States or the laws of any state in the United States providing assurances with respect to the return on investment of funds received by the commission in connection with the issuance of refunding bonds.
Section 27. (1) The bonds shall be secured by a trust agreement by and between the commission and a corporate trustee, which may be any trust company or bank incorporated under the laws of the United States or the laws of any state in the United States. Any such trust agreement shall pledge for the payment of the principal of, redemption premium, if any, and interest on the bonds, the proceeds of the special sales tax provided for in this act and may provide for any other source of payment which may from time to time be made available to pay debt service on the bonds, including revenues of a project, subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section. The avails of the special sales tax shall be used solely for the payment of the principal of, redemption premium, if any, and interest on the bonds, and for the payment of expenses of issuance thereof or reserve funds therefor.
(2) Such trust agreement may provide for the creation and maintenance of such reserve funds as the commission shall determine are reasonable and proper, including such sinking fund or funds as may be necessary to provide for the payment of the principal of, redemption premium, if any, and interest on the bonds, subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section. Any such trust agreement or any resolution directing the issuance of bonds may contain such provisions for protecting and enforcing the rights and remedies of the registered owners thereof as may be reasonable and proper and not in violation of law, including the duties of the commission in relation to the acquisition of property and the construction, improvement, equipping, furnishing, maintenance, repair, operation and insurance of any project and the custody, safeguarding and application of all monies.
(3) Such trust agreement shall provide for the creation of a fund which is separate and apart from any other fund authorized under this section. The trustee shall deposit into such funds all special sales tax revenues imposed and collected under this act. The special sales tax revenues deposited into the funds shall be invested in the manner provided by law for the investment of public funds. Such special sales tax revenues, including interest earned thereon, shall be used to pay the principal of and interest on such bonds as they become due and payable on any payment date, or if there be no such bonds, to pay the costs of any project.
(4) Any such trust agreement may set forth the rights and remedies of the registered owners of the bonds and of the trustee, and may restrict the individual right of action by such registered owners as is customary in trust agreements or trust indentures securing bonds and debentures of corporations. Further, any such trust agreement may contain such provisions as the county may deem reasonable and proper for the security of such registered owners and may also contain provisions governing the issuance of bonds to replace lost, stolen or mutilated bonds.
(5) Any such trust agreement may contain a provision that, in the event of a default in the payment of the principal of, redemption premium, if any, or the interest on the bonds issued in accordance with or relating to, such agreement or in the performance of any agreement contained in the proceedings, trust agreement or instruments relating to such bonds, such payment and performance may be enforced by mandamus or by the appointment of a receiver in equity.
(6) All expenses incurred by the commission in carrying out the provisions of any such trust agreement may be treated as a part of the cost of the operation of the project.
(7) Any surplus funds received by the trustee after payment in full of the principal of, redemption premium, if any, and interest on the bonds, or provision therefor having been made, shall be paid over to the commission and expended for any project.
Section 28. (1) Bonds issued under this act and the income therefrom shall be exempt from all taxation in the State of Mississippi, excepting inheritance and gift taxes.
(2) Bonds issued under this act shall be legal investments for commercial banks, savings and loan associations and insurance companies organized under the laws of this state.
Section 29. Bonds issued under this act shall be submitted to validation as provided by Chapter 13, Title 31, Mississippi Code of 1972, and to that end the chancery clerk shall be directed to make up a transcript of all legal papers and proceedings relating to the bonds and to certify and forward the same to the State Bond Attorney for the institution of validation proceedings.
Section 30. (1) All projects shall be owned by the commission or, in the discretion of the commission, by the Coast Transit Authority, the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority, the State Port at Gulfport, any municipal port commission, any municipality in Harrison County, any public utility district in Harrison County, the Board of Supervisors of Harrison County, or any other governmental entity designated by the commission. The commission is authorized to contract with any agency, department or other office of government or any other governmental authority, or any individual, partnership, corporation, port commission, airport authority, public utility district, water management district, county or municipality, and each of those entities are authorized to contract with the commission for the acquisition, construction, operation or maintenance of any project, and for the providing of property, equipment or services by or to the commission regarding the construction, funding or operation of any project and to contract for the management of the project or any part thereof by any individual, partnership or corporation or governmental entity. The commission is further authorized to sell, lease or otherwise convey any of the facilities or property constituting a part of or pertaining to any project and to contract with any of the above entities regarding such sale, lease or conveyance. The authority to levy and collect the special taxes provided for in this act shall not be adversely affected by any such contract, agreement, sale, lease or conveyance.
(2) The commission is further authorized to lease any of the facilities or property constituting a part of or pertaining to any project and to contract with any of the above entities regarding such lease. The authority to levy and collect the special tax provided for in this act shall not be adversely affected by any agreement entered into pursuant to this section.
Section 31. The commission shall pledge a sufficient portion of its revenues received from the sale or lease of a project, to the payment of principal of and interest on any bonds as the same comes due to the extent the same is not paid with the proceeds of the sales tax referenced in Section 19 of this act. The proceedings of the commission in connection with the issuance of bonds, pursuant to agreement with the commission, may provide for the payment of a sufficient portion of such revenues to the trustee provided for herein, and may contain such other provision regarding the priority of such pledge as shall be contained therein and in any agreements between the commission and any other contracting party.
Section 32. This act, without reference to any other statute, shall be deemed to be full and complete authority for the issuance of bonds under this act, and shall be construed as an additional and alternative method therefor, and none of the present restrictions, requirements, conditions or limitations of law applicable to the issuance or sale of bonds, notes or other obligations by municipalities of this state shall apply to the issuance and sale of bonds under this act, and no proceedings shall be required herein. All other powers and authority provided for or granted in this act, other than the levy of taxes authorized under this act, may be exercised whether or not bonds are issued pursuant to this act. All powers necessary to be exercised in order to carry out the provisions of this act are hereby conferred.
Section 33. No member of the Legislature, elected official or appointed official, or any partner or associate of any member of the Legislature, elected official or appointed official shall derive any income from the issuance of any bonds under this act.
Section 34. The exercise of the powers granted by this act will be in all respects for the benefit of the people of the state, for their well-being and prosperity and for the improvement of their social and economic conditions, and the commission shall not be required to pay any tax or assessment on any property owned by the commission under the provisions of this act or upon the income therefrom; nor shall the commission be required to pay any recording fee or transfer tax of any kind on account of instruments recorded by it or on its behalf.
Section 35. The state hereby covenants with the holders of any bonds of the commission that so long as the bonds are outstanding and unpaid the state will not limit or alter the rights and powers of the commission under this act to conduct the activities referred to herein in any way pertinent to the interests of the bondholders including, without limitation, the commission's right to charge and collect rates, fees and charges and to fulfill the terms of any covenants made with bondholders, or in any other way impair the rights and remedies of the bondholders, unless provision for full payment of such bonds, by escrow or otherwise, has been made pursuant to the terms of the bonds or the resolution, trust indenture or security instrument securing the bonds.
Section 36. The commission shall cause an audit of its books and accounts to be made at least once in each year by an independent certified public accountant and the cost thereof may be paid from any available monies of the commission.
Section 37. This act shall be deemed to provide an additional, alternative and complete method for the doing of the things authorized hereby and shall be deemed and construed to be supplemental and additional to any powers conferred by other laws on public agencies and not in derogation of any such powers now existing, provided, that insofar as the provisions of this act are inconsistent with the provisions of any other law, general, special or local, now in existence or hereafter (unless with specific reference to this act) adopted, the provisions of this act shall be controlling.
Except as expressly provided in this act, the actions contemplated hereby, other than the issuance and sale of bonds by the commission and the levy of the sales tax provided for herein, may be taken without the obtaining of any authorization, approval or consent of the state or any political subdivision or any department, division, commission, board, bureau, agency or instrumentality of either thereof an without any other proceeding or the fulfilling of any other condition or the happening of any other thing, except as expressly provided in this act.
Section 38. If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of the provisions of this act shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgement shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof directly involved in the controversy in which such judgement shall have been rendered.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.