Bid for Oktibbeha school land rejected

By The Associated Press

COLUMBUS— The Oktibbeha County School Board has rejected the only proposal put forth to lease so-called 16th Section land that includes Oktibbeha County Lake because the proposal, among other things, was nearly $18,000 less than the appraised value.

The Commercial Dispatch reports the board is now accepting new proposals though board land manager Mike Ainsworth said he hopes new proposals will be ready for the board’s Sept. 4 meeting.

According to the secretary of state’s office, the federal Land Ordinance of 1785 set aside section 16 in each township for public schools. Such land is also called public school trust land.

Oktibbeha’s approximately 450 acres have been vacant since the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks opted not to renew its lease in April when the land they had leased for 16 cents per acre was reappraised at $100 an acre.

The rejected proposal came from Rick Stansbury, former Mississippi State University basketball coach, and John Barnett who offered to pay $25,000 annually for the lease.

According to Ainsworth, the School Board cannot legally accept a bid below appraised value, which would total nearly $43,000 a year.

“By law right now, that is all they can accept, whatever the appraised value is,” Ainsworth said.

Besides not meeting the appraised rate of $100 an acre, Ainsworth said there were other factors that led to rejection of the Stansbury-Barnett proposal.

He said the proposal requested that property tax be subtracted from the lease, and suggested a $5,000 increase in the lease each decade. Neither is acceptable, Ainsworth said.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and the school board must both approve any proposals.