County holds Town Hall in Poplarville

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors held the first of what is planned to be several town hall meetings Thursday night in Poplarville.
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin presented each attendee with a packet of general information detailing how the county’s revenue is distributed to various county departments.
“You can take this home and figure out where your taxes are being spent,” it’s just a matter of plugging in the numbers, Lumpkin said.
The presentation outlined where taxes went based on the millage for each department, which is separated into different categories for those living within both municipalities and each school district.
About seven percent of taxes collected from residents living outside city limits is used by the road department, Lumpkin said.
If someone pays $1,000 in property taxes, only about $70 goes toward road maintenance every year, he said.
“That’s less than two tanks of gas per year you pay for us to try to maintain roads,” Lumpkin said.
With the average cost of maintenance per mile at about $100,000, that $70 doesn’t go very far, he said.
“When I first decided to run for supervisor, I was told the two things I would be judged on was taxes and the roads, but there’s a lot more to being a supervisor than taxes and roads,” Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said.
Holliday enumerated several projects the county is working on, including an economic development council, litter and waste collection ordinances, courthouse renovations, keeping the emergency room at the county hospital open, enhancing Ridge Road and building a county lake near Millard.
“We are all committed to being able to provide services and facilities without raising your taxes,” Holliday said.
A comment from the audience led to a discussion about how the county prioritizes road maintenance.
“This needs to come from the bottom up and we’re the bottom,” Jim Williams, a 40-year resident of DuPont Chapel Road, said. “This is our perspective. We have a vote, we want to be heard.”
Williams said for 40 years the narrow road has only been patched. He wants the county to do more for residents who have always paid their share.
“We have to look at every road, and by far, that is not the worst road in the county,” Holliday said, describing the maintenance of roads as a business decision, wherein the roads with the most traffic and in the worst shape get fixed first.
“That’s the fair way, that’s the way it has to be,” he said.
Other concerns focused on litter, rates charged at Central Landfill and who is allowed to transport waste to the privately owned facility.
District II Supervisor Malcolm Perry said county residents can dispose of up to four, 50-gallon bags per week at the landfill free of charge. To dispose of more than that, there is a $7 minimum fee, he said.
Lumpkin said Washington and St. Tammany parishes are also allowed to transport waste to the landfill, of which the county receives a $1.50 per ton kickback.
“They wouldn’t be profitable if they didn’t take in garbage from other counties,” Holliday said.
County resident Frank Vacarella asked the Board about the possibility of charging a “road use fee” to those not paying property taxes.
Lumpkin said the property tax system in Mississippi is “archaic” in how it funds the road department at an unequal rate but it is out of the county’s control.
In other revenue related matters, Lumpkin said a bill in the state legislature was recently revived to allow for voluntary submission of online sales taxes to the state, with a portion going to counties and cities for infrastructure.
Another longtime issue involving the cost of the criminal justice system was discussed.
Lumpkin said over 50 percent of the $27.9 million general fund goes to the jail, law enforcement and the court system.
The group discussed efforts currently underway to curb juvenile offenders from becoming adult offenders, and future efforts to train officers how to deal with mentally ill residents.
Information on county taxes and other public documents can be found at Contact information for each supervisor is also available on that site.
Lumpkin said he can be reached directly by calling 601-403-2300.
The county plans to hold other town hall meetings in Picayune and Carriere later this year, and continue the program every year.

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About Julia Arenstam

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