Board continues budget workshops

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2016


The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors continued budget workshops on Tuesday.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors continued budget workshops on Tuesday.
Photo by Julia Arenstam

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors continued budget workshops this week to discuss the Mississippi State University Extension Center and justice court budgets.
Board President Sandy Kane Smith and District I Supervisor Donald Hart were not present.
Before opening the public session, the Board, as well as Board Attorney Joe Montgomery and County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin entered into an executive session to discuss a potential litigation concerning county personnel. No action was taken on the matter.
Dr. Eddie Smith represented the MSU Extension Center to present the department’s budget proposal of $101,813, an increase from last year’s budget of $95,000.
Smith said the county is only responsible for paying a small portion of Extension Center salaries, so most of the request will go toward operating expenses.
The Extension Center is also responsible for running the county fair and the expenses incurred from its publicity.
Lumpkin said the Board needs to further support the fair in order to keep it going and make it more appealing to visitors.
Smith also said the Extension Center went over budget by $3,000 last year, and attributed that to increased phone bills that were not budgeted.
The Board also discussed the Pearl River County Justice Court Budget with Justice Court Clerk Kathy Mason.
Mason submitted a budget requested to the Board for $483,000 that included a minimal raise to the department’s employees.
However, Lumpkin increased the request to $558,250 to add a more significant raise to employees.
“The employees that are working in justice court are some of the lowest paid in this county,” Lumpkin said. “We need to find some way or another to boost those folks up.”
Lumpkin said the deputy clerks make less than $10 per hour.
“The deputy clerk and court clerk is who everybody unleashes on and cusses out,” Lumpkin said.
There are four clerks working in the department now, said Mason.
As the Board finishes its third week of budget discussions, many supervisors have expressed concerns about how they are going to manage each department’s budget and cut their bottom line, while ensuring they are adequately funded.
“It’s like telling somebody to stop breathing,” Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said.
The Board then discussed how a significant portion of the county budget has been dedicated to the county jail since it opened in 2004.
“Before we moved into the jail, the budget was about $600,000, now it’s $3 million,” Lumpkin said.
The Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department budget in 2001 was about $1.5 million, Lumpkin said.
This year, the sheriff’s department is requesting about $3.3 million.
When the new county jail was pitched, it was designed to bring in federal payments from housing federal inmates, Lumpkin said.
Currently, the jail earns about $800,000 per year from housing inmates, he said.
The state pays $20 per inmate, per day for those enrolled in the Alcohol and Drug program, Pearl River County Sheriff David Allison said.
Yet, Lumpkin estimated they would pay between $40-45 per person, per day if it were a private prison.
The Board said they are going to have to make several tough cuts in many departments before the budget is approved on Sept. 15.
The next budget workshop will be held on Aug. 29 at 9 a.m.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

email author More by Julia