MGCCC president: USA ‘paying’ rent through building improvements

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) – The State Auditor’s Office is now backing down from its earlier assertion that Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s deal with the University of South Alabama could violate state law, saying it did not have all the facts.

Both State Auditor Stacey Pickering and Lt. Governor Phil Bryant sent letters to the MGCCC Board objecting to the agreement to allow USA to offer classes at the community college’s Gautier campus.

“People are very concerned with brining [sic] in another institution of higher learning from a neighboring state,” said Lt. Governor Phil Bryant in a letter sent Tuesday.

Pickering’s letter focuses on the terms of the deal which will allow USA to use space on the Gautier campus rent-free for one year. Citing state statute, Pickering writes “The rule in Mississippi is well settled. The donation of public property is absolutely prohibited.”

Pickering advised MGCCC that the law requires it to receive “fair market value” from USA for use of the buildings “to avoid a prohibited donation.”