Plans on pause: Council disagrees on how to finance Propst Park project

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Propst Park in Columbus is at a standstill once again.

Columbus Vice Mayor Joseph Mickens said the issue doesn’t lie in paying for park upgrades. He said the problem is in how the city goes about paying for it.

“I will not be the one to be the reason why this project didn’t get done,” said Mickens.

Columbus City Council voted to take out a $3 million loan to fund improvements for the park during the summer.

Mickens said the council was only given one day before a special meeting last week to decide on whether to accept or reject the bid on the loan’s interest rate.

“They should given the council more time to process what’s going on before we come in and make a vote,” said Mickens. “My vote was: did we get the best deal? We’re put in the position to handle resources that are coming into the city of Columbus. Did we explore every avenue that we could? Did we talk to the bankers at Cadence? Did we talk to bankers at Bancorp South, whoever the bankers are? Did we explore all of our options?”

In that special meeting, City Financial Officer Jim Brigham presented and recommended a bid to the city council.

“We were told this was the only one that gave us a bid, and that didn’t sit well with me,” said Mickens. “Let me hear it myself. Was that the only option out here?”

The interest on the $3 million loan would be set at over 5%.

Mickens said he doesn’t understand why local banks weren’t an option.

“We have defaulted on no loans. We have a lot of financial institutions here in the city, and to be quite frank with you, I’m a little appalled that none of the financial institutions here in the city of Columbus would give us the loan to back us on this project. That bothers me,” said Mickens.

Propst Park is expected to be back on the agenda for Thursday’s work session.

We will keep you updated as the story develops.

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