2003 Regular Session
To: Local and Private; Finance
By: Senator(s) King, Farris, Harvey
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE CITY OF HATTIESBURG, MISSISSIPPI, AND FORREST COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, TO ACT JOINTLY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OR IMPROVEMENT OF VARIOUS FACILITIES FOR THE BENEFIT OF TOURISM, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND COMMERCE IN THE CITY OF HATTIESBURG, FORREST COUNTY, AND ON THE CAMPUS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI; TO AUTHORIZE THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS AND AUTHORIZE AN ELECTION ON THE QUESTION OF ISSUANCE OF THE BONDS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following terms as used in this act shall have the meanings herein ascribed unless the context otherwise clearly requires:
(a) "City" means the City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
(b) "County" means Forrest County, Mississippi.
(c) "University" means the University of Southern Mississippi.
(d) "Bond" or "bonds" means bonds, notes or any other evidence of indebtedness or financial obligation, direct or indirect, of the city, county, and/or the Educational Building Corporation issued pursuant to this act.
(e) "Governing body" means the Board of Supervisors of Forrest County, the City Council of the City of Hattiesburg, or the Board of Directors of the University of Southern Mississippi Educational Building Corporation, as applicable.
(f) "Educational Building Corporation" means the University of Southern Mississippi Educational Building Corporation, a public nonprofit corporation formed pursuant to Section 37-101-61, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(g) "Local government unit" means the city and the county, acting jointly or severally, as the case may be.
SECTION 2. It is hereby declared that the public policy and welfare of the state, the local government units, the university and the Educational Building Corporation demand:
(a) That for the benefit of the people of the state, the local government units and the university, it is essential to foster and promote the issuing of bonds by the local government units acting jointly or severally.
(b) That the bonds to be issued pursuant to this act shall be of any type permissible to be issued by any city, county or Educational Building Corporation without limitation.
(c) That the purposes of the bonds issued under this act are for the development of new or improvements to existing facilities which may reasonably result in tourism growth, economic development benefits and increased commerce for the university, city and/or county.
(d) That the projects contemplated under this act are to provide economic development benefits, including, but not limited to, industry, distribution, commerce, tourism, general welfare, and other purposes in which the public purpose and interest of the people of the state, the local government units and the university are served.
(e) That costs and revenues connected with a project should both be shared by the local government units as defined by this act.
(f) That the authority granted under this act and the purposes to be accomplished hereby are proper governmental and public purposes and that the resulting economic benefits to the state, the local government units and the university are of paramount importance, mandating that the provisions of this act be liberally construed and applied in order to advance the public purposes.
SECTION 3. For the purposes set forth in Section 2 of this act, the local government units, acting jointly or severally, shall be authorized:
(a) To cooperate and coordinate with each other, the university and the Educational Building Corporation in the issuance of bonds for the purposes set forth in Section 2 of this act by enabling them to cooperate and contract among each other to share costs associated with a project as provided in this act.
(b) To issue, from time to time, negotiable bonds of the city, and/or county for the purposes set forth in Section 2 of this act, and to pay for or share in the costs of issuing the bonds (including bond insurance, credit enhancements, rating agency fees and legal fees and expenses) and the payment of debt service for such bonds, in any manner as the local government units shall agree in writing. Any such bonds so issued may be secured by and the principal of, premium, if any, and interest on any such bonds shall be repaid from, any available revenues of a local government unit (regardless of which local government unit is the issuer of such bonds) as such local government unit shall agree, including, without limitation, tax revenues generated pursuant to the existing or future authority granted to the city and/or county by law, and any such other security or revenue source as shall be provided by the city or county, as applicable.
(c) To adopt any and all lawful resolutions, orders or ordinances; execute and deliver such agreements, contracts, indentures and certificates; and to perform any and all other acts and things necessary and requisite to issue the bonds and carry out the purposes of this act.
SECTION 4. All bonds issued pursuant to this act may be executed and delivered at any time and, from time to time, may be in such form and denominations, may be of such tenor, may be payable in such installments and at such time or times not exceeding forty (40) years from their date, may be payable at such place or places, may bear interest at such rate or rates payable at such place or places and evidenced in such manner, and may contain such provisions not inconsistent herewith, all as may be provided by resolution of local government units' governing boards. The bonds issued by any local government unit pursuant to this act shall be signed by the chairman or president of its governing board or other chief executive officer and attested by its secretary or clerk, and the seal of such local government unit shall be affixed thereto. Any such bonds may be sold at public or private sale in such manner and, from time to time, as may be determined by the governing board to be most advantageous, and any participating local government unit, or the participating local government units acting jointly, may pay all expenses, premiums and commissions which the governing boards, as applicable, may deem necessary or advantageous in connection with the authorization, sale and issuance thereof. All such bonds shall be construed to be negotiable instruments, despite the fact that they may be payable solely from a specified source.
SECTION 5. The local government units may appropriate funds for the purposes of this act and in the manner prescribed by law without regard to whether the development or improvements authorized by this act to be financed by such debt or appropriation are located within or without the boundaries of a local government unit. Revenues derived from any improvement or development financed with bonds issued pursuant to this act may be pledged in whole or in part to secure payment of the bonded indebtedness incurred to finance the improvement or development.
SECTION 6. Any power, authority or responsibility exercised or capable of being exercised by a local government unit may be exercised and carried out jointly with any other local government unit, any state board, agency or commission and any public agency of the United States, to the extent that such joint exercise or enjoyment is authorized by law. Any joint undertaking entered into under this act shall be evidenced by written contractual agreements for joint or cooperative action to provide support (financial or otherwise), services and facilities pursuant to the provisions of this act, including, without limitation, joint or cooperative pledging of security and/or any available revenues for the payment of any bonds issued by a local governmental unit under this act. If one (1) of the local government units shall have authority to undertake a particular project or pursue a particular action with respect to such project, then any other local government unit participating in a project pursuant to this act shall have identical authority to do so. Any agreements entered into under this act by a local government unit may be for any term as such local government unit shall agree, including for a term concurrent with the final maturity of any bonds issued by a local governmental unit pursuant to this act. No local government unit shall be precluded from participating in the financing of a project pursuant to this act solely because the local government unit acting alone would not otherwise have the authority to participate.
SECTION 7. Any bonds issued pursuant to this act and the income therefrom including any profit made on the sale thereof, and all fees, charges, gifts, grants, revenues, receipts and other monies received, pledged to pay or secure the payment of such bonds shall at all times be free from taxation of every kind by the state and by the municipalities and all other political subdivisions of the state.
SECTION 8. The local government units are authorized to cooperate, coordinate and contract with the university, the Educational Building Corporation, economic development commissions, tourism commissions, convention commissions, authorities, districts, travel, and other similar commissions and boards, or other similar agencies of other states, the federal government, and with county, municipal and regional economic development, travel, tourism and other similar commissions or boards, or other agencies thereof, and other political subdivisions of this state, for the purposes of this act as set forth in Section 2, and to derive revenues to participate in financing projects hereunder.
(a) This act, without reference to any other statute not referred to herein, shall be deemed to be full and complete authority for the borrowing of money and the issuing of bonds as authorized by the governing authorities and shall be construed as an additional and alternate method therefor.
(b) The powers and authority granted and set forth in this act shall be additional and supplemental to any other powers and authority granted by law and shall not amend, repeal or supersede any other powers and authority granted by law.
SECTION 9. (1) Before the issuance of any bonds under the provisions of this act, the governing body of any local government unit proposing to issue bonds shall adopt a resolution declaring its intention to do so, stating the maximum amount of bonds proposed to be issued, the purpose for which the bonds are to be issued, and the date upon which the governing body proposes to direct the issuance of the bonds. The resolution shall be published once a week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks in at least one (1) newspaper published in Forrest County. The first publication of the resolution shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days before the date fixed in the resolution to direct the issuance of the bonds, and the last publication shall be made not more than seven (7) days before that date. The publication shall be no less than one-fourth (1/4) page in size and the type used shall be no smaller than eighteen (18) point and surrounded by a one-fourth-inch solid black border. If twenty percent (20%) or one thousand five hundred (1,500) of the qualified electors of the local government unit, whichever is less, file a written protest against the issuance of the bonds on or before the date specified in the resolution, then an election on the question of the issuance of the bonds shall be called and held as provided in this section. If no such protest is filed, then the bonds may be issued without an election on the question of the issuance of the bonds at any time within a period of two (2) years after the date specified in the resolution. However, the governing body of a local government unit, in its discretion, nevertheless may call an election on that question, in which case it shall not be necessary to publish the resolution declaring its intention to issue bonds as provided in this section.
(2) Where an election is to be called as provided in this section, notice of the election shall be signed by the clerk of the governing body of the local government unit, and shall be published once a week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks in at least one (1) newspaper published in Forrest County. The first publication of the notice shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days before the date fixed for the election, and the last publication shall be made not more than seven (7) days before that date. The notice shall be no less than one-fourth (1/4) page in size and the type used shall be no smaller than eighteen (18) point and surrounded by a one-fourth-inch solid black border.
(3) The election shall be held, as far as is practicable, in the same manner as other elections are held in the local government unit. At the election, all qualified electors of the local government unit may vote, and the ballots used at the election shall have printed on them a brief statement of the amount and purpose of the proposed bond issue and the words "FOR THE BOND ISSUE" and "AGAINST THE BOND ISSUE", and the voter shall vote by placing a cross (x) or check mark (√) opposite his or her choice on the proposition.
(4) When the results of the election on the question of the issuance of the bonds has been canvassed by the election commissioners of the local government unit and certified by them to the governing body of the local government unit, it shall be the duty of the governing body to determine and adjudicate whether or not a majority of the qualified electors who voted thereon in such election voted in favor of the issuance of the bonds, and unless a majority of the qualified electors who voted therein in the election have voted in favor of the issuance of the bonds, then the bonds shall not be issued. If a majority of the qualified electors who vote thereon in the election vote in favor of the issuance of the bonds, then the governing body of the local government unit may issue the bonds, either in whole or in part, within two (2) years after the date of the election or the date of the final favorable termination of any litigation affecting the issuance of the bonds.
SECTION 10. Any bonds issued under the provisions of this act may be validated in the manner provided by law.
SECTION 11. No member of the Legislature, elected or appointed official, or any partner or associate of any member of the Legislature, elected or appointed official, shall derive any income from the issuance of any bonds under this act contrary to the provisions of Section 109, Mississippi Constitution of 1890, or Article 3, Chapter 4, Title 25, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 12. This act shall stand repealed on July 1, 2007.
SECTION 13. The governing authorities of the City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and the Board of Supervisors of Forrest County, Mississippi, shall submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.
SECTION 14. If this act is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended, then this act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.