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Supervisors discuss annex buildings and appear to be close to moving forward

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin explains plan to board

Near the end of Wednesday’s meeting of the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin addressed the board about an approach he had prepared in regards to how the county could build an annex for county offices.

The board has been discussing the size, cost, location, and functionality of what to build without being able to reach a consensus where they could agree on a plan to move forward. After giving each board member a handout, Lumpkin told the Supervisors why he brought this approach to them for discussion.

“I want to look at this from a different angle today. In my opinion, we need to try to figure out what we are going to do and what we can agree on. I’ve listened to what everyone has said throughout this process, looked at it, and have tried to come up with a compromise and solution where we can get something in place and move forward,” Lumpkin stated.

He said that a factor that will impact this project is interest rates. Lumpkin told the board that he felt like President Trump’s plan will cause them to move higher. Another factor that he pointed out is the growth in building permits and the new construction that is now in progress in the county.

Lumpkin, using a rudimentary drawing that he created and a spreadsheet, explained how he came to his numbers in regards to the space allocations for the departments depicted on his sheet. In the previous meeting of the board, District 2 Supervisor Malcolm Perry was concerned that when the previous drawings and space layout was prepared by Landry & Lewis Architects, the department heads did not have input to the plan created. In this approach, Lumpkin detailed how he put the layout and space allocations together and also how he would address the desired functionality of having Tax Assessor office and Chancery Clerk office together.

“I spent time about forty five minutes to an hour with Melinda (Chancery Clerk-Bowman) yesterday and stepped through it with her looking at some different things,” Lumpkin explained.

Lumpkin stated that he measured the existing space for the Chancery Clerk offices and the Tax Assessor’s office, and calculated the growth that may be needed for future space. In his plan, there would be one two story building with the Chancery Clerk and Tax Assessor’s office on the first floor.

The Chancery offices, storage, and vault currently is at approximately 6,000 square feet. For the new plan, Lumpkin proposes a 20 percent increase to 7,200 square feet. For Tax offices, including current storage, he said they use 4,400 today and he projects a 40 percent increase to around 6,160 square feet. E911/Planning would go from 1,500 square feet to 1,800 square feet.

For the District Attorney’s space in this proposed new building, Lumpkin outlined a plan that will call for a 40 percent increase in space from 1,850 to 2,590 square feet. He has space for two court rooms for a total of 12,000 square feet. He also added space allocated for the public defenders, Circuit Court support personnel, and County Court support personnel.

Lumpkin said that the total square footage for each floor would be approximately 17,960 square feet. This would allow the board and administration to take the space vacated by the Chancery offices in the old courthouse building. His plan would also eliminate the need for the current building used by the IT (informational technology) department and the GIS department.

Using a cost per foot estimate of $185.00 for construction, Lumpkin’s plan would call for a building cost of $6.645 million dollars. Lumpkin added estimates for renovation to the office space in the courthouse, and site work for a total construction cost of $7,345,200.00. He also added in costs for architecture and engineering costs, furniture, and a 10 percent contingency cost for a grand total of $8,723,884.00.

These numbers are almost $4 million less than the estimate the board had received in the plans from Landry & Lewis which included two buildings, with one annex on each side of the existing courthouse. Lumpkin proposes the county use the lot that is located north of the existing courthouse for this building.

Board President Sandy Kane Smith, and Perry, who have been opposed to a two building and approximately $12 million dollar plan proposed by Landry & Lewis, both told Lumpkin that this is the most comfortable each has been about this project since they have been discussing the buildings.

After a lengthy discussion among the board members, the board appeared to be in agreement with this approach and agreed to approach the local legislature body with this new approach. During their meeting with the legislators on December 7, State Representatives John Corley (District 106), Timmy Ladner (District 93), Stacey Wilkes (District 108), and State Senator Angela Hill (District 40) did not support a two building construction project and were dead set against any kind of tax increase for new buildings or economic development funding. (December 7th meeting )

The board said they will reach out to the legislators verbally and in writing to let them know they are all in agreement in theory with this approach and hope to garner their support in the upcoming state legislative session which begins in less than two weeks.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Lumpkin said, “I’ve been working here for about twenty years, and I’ve seen a lot go on in this county, I’ve seen how everything works and I feel this is the best compromise we can get to.”