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County to spend $106,000 on $3.8M loan

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
June 4, 2004
Lauderdale County supervisors will be asked Monday to approve more than $106,000 in the cost of borrowing $3.8 million to repair and pave county roads.
The amount, which will be on Monday's claims docket, according to Lauderdale County Administrator Rex Hiatt, includes hotel and airfare expenses for four supervisors, two Lauderdale County employees, two attorneys and a financial advisor who went to New York in March to meet with bond rating analysts at Moody's Investors Service.
The Meridian Star first attempted to compile the total cost of borrowing the money through the issuing of general obligation bonds nine weeks ago, but was only able to determine part of the cost of the trip based on information obtained through public records requests.
Public records requests were made in writing on April 5, to both the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors office to the attention of Hiatt, and to the Lauderdale County Chancery Clerk's office to the attention of Lauderdale County Chancery Clerk Ann Wilson Hayes.
Included in the requests were all receipts, invoices, expense reports, fees and reimbursements concerning travel, lodging, meals, entertainment and any other costs incurred by the county on the New York trip.
Incomplete records were provided by the board of supervisors on April 9, which included only the cost of airfare and the daily $40 expenses for each of the county officials.
Late response
The chancery clerk's office responded late to its request on April 29 and with no additional information other than what Hiatt's office supplied.
According to Hiatt, the information was incomplete because the county's bond counsel law firm, Butler, Snow, O'Mara, Stevens &Cannada, of Jackson, made the hotel reservations for the trip and was billing those expenses to the county along with its legal fees.
Information supplied by Hiatt on Thursday, shows the total cost of the New York trip was $15,360.55.
The information provided, however, does not include actual invoices from the luxury Manhattan hotel where officials stayed and the costs of hotel rooms were billed from three different sources: the Butler, Snow law firm; the Bourdeaux &Jones law firm in Meridian, listed as the county's issuer counsel; and the county's financial consultant firm, Holley, Grubbs, Mitcham &Phillips of Jackson.