County Board approves budget

Published 1:38 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The county’s new budget was approved Monday morning, with no millage increase.

A budget hearing was held shortly before the new budget was adopted, which was primarily attended by county employees already present for the meeting. After the hearing was held and closed, the board approved the new budget.

Tax Assessor Gary Beech approached the board earlier that morning, before the budget hearing, to ask for extra revenue to help fund the added responsibility the county will take on when they start collecting taxes for the City of Picayune. He asked for about $110,000 extra in his budget. The projected increase in revenue for the department to collect those taxes for the City of Picayune is estimated to be about $178,000. During discussion of the new budget County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the board had already projected an increase of $80,000 to the tax department. Beech was not present for the budget discussion.

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Board president Anthony Hales proposed during the discussion that since the board had already projected an increase of $80,000 to the tax department budget that the board could just add another $30,000 to meet Beech’s, bringing his total increase to $110,000. That change, and the budget for the next fiscal year was approved.

Later when Beech returned to the meeting, after the board already approved the new budget, he seemed less than satisfied with the board’s decision. He said his office taking on the increased responsibility of collecting the city’s taxes in his office will need a larger budget. Since most other departments saw a reduction in their budget District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday found the increase in the tax department fair. The board and Beech agreed to discuss the matter further at a later time.

Millage in the new county budget did not increase. Some maneuvering did move a mill from the bridges and culverts fund to the roads fund. Lumpkin said that move, in the spirit of cooperation, will allow the cites, Picayune and Poplarville, to collect about $90,000 more in road taxes between the both of them. This increase in collected road taxes to the cites can be used to maintain roads.

Millage rates in the county will be 48.39 mills. Pearl River County school district millage rates are 54.71, Poplarville school district millage rates are 56.22 mills and Lumberton school district millage rates are 44.23. Each volunteer fire district has a millage rate of four mills, according to documentation passed out at the meeting.

The board also held a public hearing on property for the clean up of properties in the county that pose a health or safety risk. A number of properties were discussed; about five were determined to be demolished in a timely manner by the county if the owner does not. Those properties are 102 Myrtle Dr., Nicholson; 125 Terry Lane, Picayune; 112 Oleander Dr., Nicholson; 120 and 122 Daisy Dr., Nicholson; and 104 Oleander Dr., Nicholson. If the county is left to tear down those properties then the price to do so, employee overtime included, will be added to the property owner’s tax bill.

Hales wanted to clear up a misunderstood statement from last week’s meeting. Hales said he got a call from City of Poplarville officials concerning the misunderstood statement. He said his statement concerning having to haggle with a certain city to work out issues of emergency communications was not projected at Poplarville. He said the point of the topic was to consider moving emergency 911 communications to an office in Poplarville near the phone company’s central office. A generator and the close proximity to the phone company’s office would ensure emergency communications stayed functional.

That move would eliminate a step callers would have to make to place 911 calls for medical or other emergencies, Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said.

County Fire Marshall addressed the board about a dead tree that poses the risk of falling into a roadway, blocking in the residents who live on the street. Hales said if the county had to they could get permission from the land owner to remove the tree. Planning and Development Director Ed Pinero Jr., said that if the tree is a danger to power lines then the electric company could be asked to remove the tree. Board Attorney Joe Montgomery agreed that the electric company’s easement would allow the electric company to take care of the tree if it is a danger to their lines. The board will attempt to contact the electric company to have the tree taken care of.

In other business the board went into executive session to discuss pending litigation and personnel matters. Lumpkin said the board took no action on the pending litigation or personnel matters.

After the executive session the board held a workshop with Camp Dresser and McKee about the smart growth plan. Next week the board will be presented with information on the Smart Growth plan, Lumpkin said.

The board also;

— Approved bus turnaround lists for Lumberton, Pearl River County, and Picayune school districts.

— Approved applying for a two year extension for the Mississippi State Tax Commission mapping audit.

— Acknowledged E-911 Addressing report for August 2008.

— Authorized the Chancery Court Clerk to execute bills of sales for 18 vehicles from Hancock County.

The next meeting of the board will be 9 a .m. Sept. 22.