The future of county millage rate remains unclear

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Pearl River Board of Supervisors discussed increasing the county library system budget, but it's still unclear what supervisors will decide about the millage rate.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

The Pearl River Board of Supervisors discussed increasing the county library system budget, but it’s still unclear what supervisors will decide about the millage rate.
Photo by Julia Arenstam


County budgets are steadily increasing as the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors continue to hold budget workshops this month.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin presented the Board with his budget recommendations for next year based on the revenue generated if the millage rate stayed the same.
Last year’s millage rate in the county was 55.62 mills.
It is unclear whether the Board plans to maintain that rate, or lower it to compensate for increase property values.
In order to collect the same amount of revenue, the county millage rate would have to be lowered to 51.28.
Board Vice President Hudson Holiday said it is the Board’s intention to cut the millage rate, though he did not say by how much.
Lumpkin projected the county would have $17 million in revenue from ad valorem taxes and other revenue streams in the general fund, if the millage rate remained the same.
“The county could really use the added revenue,” Moeller said.
Last year, the general fund budget was around $16.3 million.
Previously, various Supervisors stated they did not support a tax increase in the county.
“I’m going to be fighting hard on the county side to lower the millage rate back down to where we were before the increase,” Board President Sandy Kane Smith said in a previous interview.
After some amendments were made to Lumpkin’s original recommendation, by the end of a Board meeting on Monday, Supervisors raised the total general fund expenditures for next year to roughly $16.9 million.
“The intention of the board is to cut the millage some,” Holliday said. “I expect everybody’s taxes to go up, including mine.”
Smith said though he doesn’t want to raise taxes, “you can’t go too low or you’ll cut yourself in other places.”
He said he hopes to lower the millage as much as he can to keep the revenue where it was last year.
Though, the Board is feeling pressure from many departments to increase budgets in order to provide better services.
“Wherever we’re going to be, it’s still going to be a bit more than last year,” Smith said. “The people I represent pay so much already.”
However, there were significant cuts to the requests of many departments.
The request from departments to the general fund totaled over $18 million for next year.
“They won’t get all they asked for, but they will get enough,” Moeller said.
“We’ve cut every department from a lot more than what they wanted,” Holliday said. “All of us have sweat over this, not from a political standpoint, but as people of this county.”
District I Supervisor Donald Hart said he is unsure where the millage rate will be set.
He said he received many calls from constituents expressing their concerns about a possible tax increase.
Moeller said he would be in favor of lowering the millage rate.
“I don’t know if we can lower it enough to keep the taxes the same,” he said. “But, sometimes it’s very tough for people on a fixed income.”
District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry said he still wants to lower the millage, but the departments and the county have a lot of needs.
Perry also said he sent the chancery clerk, circuit clerk, sheriff’s department and tax assessor’s office copies of the budget and each department’s request, asking them what they would cut.
“I think we just do it straight across the board, every department can tighten their belts just a little bit,” Perry said.
However, with the increase in assessment values, Perry said the Board could give each department a little increase from last year, and lower the millage some to alleviate some of the burden on taxpayers.
The Board is still looking into the possibility of hosting an open meeting to discuss the county budget with the community, Holiday said.
“The people of this county, the vast majority of them, if they understood what we’re trying to do and the obstacles that we have and the issues that we face…they would be very supportive and a lot of them would call for a tax increase,” Holiday said.
A date has not been set for that open meeting.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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