The Commercial Appeal

Miss. may attain Worldcom site

- By Phil West

JACKSON, Miss. — State Department of Revenue workers, who have toiled for years in a steel-sided former industrial site in Raymond, Miss., could be moving into a $75 million complex in suburban Clinton under legislatio­n House members approved Wednesday.

House members approved the move on a 71-43 vote despite strong objections from Democrats, who charged the state would be acquiring the property without knowing how much it would have to pay for it.

The relatively short bill says the state Department of Finance and Administra­tion would be authorized to acquire — through lease, lease-purchase or outright purchase — the threebuild­ing complex that formerly housed WorldCom in Clinton’s South Pointe Business Park.

“We feel like this is the best property available to the Department of Revenue. They could move in tomorrow,” said Rep. Tom Weathersby, R-Florence, chairman of the House Public Property Committee.

Weathersby said the WorldCom property, located on 79 acres west of Jackson, would be a good deal for the state.

Should the state decide to buy the property, a purchase price would be set as the fair market value, an average of two appraisals, in the neighborho­od of $75 million.

“The chairman of the committee (Weathersby) has done a fine job of defending the indefensib­le,” said Rep. Cecil Brown, DJackson.

Brown, a certified public accountant, called the legislatio­n “a pig in a poke,” an old political expression that means legislator­s were voting for something about which they know little.

The Department of Revenue moved into the former Mississipp­i Power Co. warehouse 16 years ago for what was supposed to have been a three-year renovation to the state Woolfolk Building across the street from the state Capitol. That lease expires next year.

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