Another million
for Riley Center?

By Staff
December 14, 2003
Lauderdale County supervisors are apt to get an earful when they convene a public hearing on Monday, one at which they will hear views on whether to chip in another $1 million to the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center. The county government has already contributed $3 million through an urban renewal bond issue.
Specifically, board members will be considering a request for additional money made by Dr. Charles Lee, president of Mississippi State University, the prime sponsor of the project that now involves renovations to three downtown buildings.
Bonds function essentially as a loan whose payback is guaranteed by the county treasury, and in that sense, supervisors are right to seek public input. The people have a right to speak on how their money is obligated by their elected officials.
Is the question already decided and the public hearing a mere formality? We don't know; we do know that one supervisor, District 5's Ray Boswell says he will oppose the request. The other four have been supportive of the project and its economic development potential.
A study done by Mississippi State found that, once completed, the Riley Center will provide a $5 million a year boost to the local economy. The value of catapulting Meridian into the center of the arts and education world is priceless.
We continue to believe the Riley Center is a key component of urban renewal in Meridian and that the request for another $1 million should be approved. We also encourage all interested citizens to attend the hearing and speak their minds. The hearing takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday in the supervisors board room at the Raymond P. Davis Courthouse Annex.