Board votes to keep millage rate, increase revenue

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Director of the Senior Center of South Pearl River County Darlene Adams speaks to the Board during a public hearing on Monday.  Photo by Julia Arenstam

Director of the Senior Center of South Pearl River County Darlene Adams speaks to the Board during a public hearing on Monday.
Photo by Julia Arenstam


After heavy debate, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors approved the budget and set the millage rate for next year.
The Board voted 3-1 to keep the county millage rate at 55.62 mills, increasing the general fund budget to just under $17 million, an increase from roughly $16.3 million the previous year.
Board President Sandy Kane Smith voted against the motion, District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry was not present, but Smith relayed a message that stated he supported lowering the millage or setting aside $300,000 for the road fund.
“The people I represent pay the most taxes,” Smith said. “The only thing I can do is keep their taxes down.”
Board Vice President Hudson Holliday motioned to leave the millage rate the same, and District IV Supervisor Farron Moeller seconded. District I Supervisor Donald Hart also voted in favor of Holliday’s motion.
Prior to the vote, Smith submitted a proposal to reduce the millage by one mill, half each from the general fund and reappraisal fund.
Smith said the revenue for the general fund would be limited to $16.7 million under his proposal.
“I think we can make it happen if we do that,” he said.
“If we cut this and it saves you $15, is that going to change your standard of living?” Holliday said. “I’m not pushing for a tax increase, I’m pushing to make the best possible county.”
Members of the audience advocated their positions to the Board during a public hearing held prior to the Board’s vote.
“I bet when you go buy a car, you don’t buy the cheapest car on the lot, you go and look around,” Kathleen Holland, a long-standing member of the Pearl River County Library System, said during the hearing. “We need to spend the money on these things, because people need it.”
County resident Frank Vaccarella said the county should be kind to property owners, because they are the ones paying for the services. He also said the county should be more conscious of the redistribution of wealth that occurs.
Many of the services the county provides help the senior citizens, who make up a large part of the county’s population.
“We feed them, we provide them bus services, keep their cost of living down… the senior center is the best value for your money,”
Darlene Adams, director of the Senior Center of South Pearl River County, said.
Looking to the future, county resident Russel Foster brought up the former Board’s idea to implement a one-cent sales tax in the county.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said that was a state legislature issue, and the Board had no authority over the matter, though they have brought it to the state’s attention before.
Lumpkin said the county spent $300,000 more than it earned for the past 11 months.
Lumpkin also said last year’s budgeted revenue was $15.6 million, and expenditures totaled $16.2 million, a difference of $600,000.
However, total budget requests from all departments would have brought the general to about $18.3 million, it the Board approved them. Lumpkin said the millage would have to be increased by 4.5 to 5 mills to meet those requests.
“They want all of that, and that’s what we were elected to give them,” Holliday said.
The increased budget for next year will be distributed to several departments, including Chancery and Circuit Courts, the sheriff’s department, the library system and the senior center.

In other news, the Board:
• Approved the addition of bus turnarounds in Picayune and Poplarville.
• Awarded a $12,706 contract to Revolution Data Systems to scan 54,600 pages of land deeds in the Chancery Clerk’s office back to 1961.
• Acknowledged receipt of FEMA funds totaling $138,101, with one payment left to come.
• Awarded a contract for the County Development Block Grant Courthouse project to BW Sullivan Building, Contractor, Inc. for $838,000.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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