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|Wal-Mart check for $270,000 in Friday mail|
Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said a $270,000 check from Wal-Mart arrived in the mail Friday.
Last year, Wal-Mart sent the town a check for $300,000, which was thought to be the first of 10 annual payments in that amount. The annual funding was announced last year as a plan by Wal-Mart to help offset sales tax losses to the town when Wal-Mart shut down its operations in Ferriday and later opened a new store in Vidalia.
"This check was $30,000 less," said McGlothin. "We're glad to get it -- God knows Ferriday needs the money -- but it was just a check in an envelope without explanation as to why it was $270,000 instead of $300,000. We were suppose to get the check in January but we got it in May."
McGlothin said he can't get an answer from Wal-Mart on where documentation of an agreement between the town and Wal-Mart is located.
"There's nothing here at town hall," he said. "I'd like to be able to provide the Council and the people an intelligent answer on this matter but I'm afraid I can't thus far."
He said Wal-Mart apparently doesn't plan to provide the town $300,000 annually for the next 10 years although that's what the former administration indicated last year.
When the first check for $300,000 arrived, then-Mayor Gene Allen said, "These funds were promised to the city to help offset the loss of sales tax revenue when a local retailer chose to re-locate. Our town attorney, Derrick Carson, myself, the Town Council and Ferriday Project Specialist Teresa Dennis worked successfully to assure the fair treatment of the Town of Ferriday. After a year of waiting and many follow-up calls the dedicated effort has paid off."
Carson said he has talked to McGlothin and some council members about the matter.
"I have provided them with a list of names of individuals in Ferriday and Wal-Mart who were present when the conversation over this issue took place," said Carson. He said the names of the individuals involved have been provided to the mayor and council which should provide "the necessary information to locate any documentation of the results of the discussions between Ferriday and Wal-Mart."
A legal document between Ferriday and Wal-Mart is reportedly filed privately at Wal-Mart offices but no such document has been made public. A Wal-Mart lawyer said Wednesday that the legal department would respond to inquiries into the matter made by the Concordia Sentinel, but that response was not made prior to presstime.
Allen said last year that the funds were to be used as matching grants for future grant applications and for special projects, such as downtown revitalization, infrastructure and recreation.
But McGlothin asked: "How do we know what to plan when we don't know how much the Wal-Mart checks will amount to? We don't know what the agreement is."
After Wal-Mart decided to abandoned its Ferriday operation, Vidalia made an agreement with the company to locate there. By locating within the city limits, Vidalia agreed to build Wal-Mart a parking lot, said town attorney Jack McLemore.
That parking lot cost the town more than $900,000, but McLemore said the agreement has more than paid off.
"Wal-Mart's sales taxes in Vidalia amount to more than $900,000 a year," he said. "It would have been foolish for us not to try to entice them within the city limits" when Wal-Mart had planned to locate just a short distance outside the town's boundary.
McLemore added that "we were not a party to Wal-Mart's discussions with Ferriday."
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