Board sets out to cut $1.1 million from budget requests

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors heard its last budget request Monday before attempting to reduce $1.1 million from the total requests to fit within the projected $17.2 million in revenue for the general fund.
Pearl River County Library System Director Carol Phares requested an additional $22,600 in funding for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Phares urged the Board to remember the importance of public libraries, especially in times of crisis. After disasters such as the storm in south Texas, public libraries are some of the first services to reopen so people have Internet access to begin the recovery process, she said.
After Hurricane Katrina, Phares said people flocked to both Pearl River County libraries in search of lost loved ones, to contact insurance agencies and to find jobs.
The additional funds would be used to open the libraries on Wednesdays, she said.
Crosby Memorial Library is in the top seven percentile in the state in terms of circulation, and the Poplarville Public Library is in the top 21 percent out of 235 library branches statewide, Phares said.
Even with limited hours, the libraries still experienced a high volume of visitors, seeing about 1,708 people each week, she said.
The Board then sought to distribute the funds, working from recommendations from County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin.
The draft budget increased expenditures from roughly $16.9 million to $17.5 million. However, Lumpkin estimated the general fund revenue to be about $17.2 million based upon a 90 percent collection rate.
“I think the revenue will be sufficient, we’ll get there. I just like to stay on the low side,” Lumpkin said.
Currently, the total general fund budget is within range, with some departments going over budget (jail and Circuit Court) and others staying under, he said.
“With this budget, for the most part, everyone should be able to stay in budget,” Lumpkin said.
For departments that stayed within budget, like Chancery Court, Lumpkin said he tried to provide a $10,000 to $12,000 increase to meet the rising cost of operations.
“I didn’t want to punish people who stayed in budget by saying they don’t get any more money,” he said.
Within other budgets, like Circuit Court, which consistently goes over budget, Lumpkin said he tried to accommodate the overage.
But even with the increased budget to Chancery Court, the Board decided to fully fund Chancery Clerk Melinda Bowman’s request of $50,000 to complete the records restoration project.
Although Bowman has the authority to pay for such expenses through her fee account, she previously said she intends to turn that money over to the county at the end of each year.
In the past, the Chancery Clerk’s office would take money from the fee account to buy furniture, printers and other supplies for departments it worked with on a regular basis, Lumpkin said.
The Board also discussed distributing an extra $15,000 in funding to the Tax Assessor’s Office to hire an office manager at the Picayune location, and $38,000 to change a part-time position at the District Attorney’s Office to full-time.
The Board will hold a public hearing on the budget before finally approving it on Sept. 15 at 9 a.m. The next Board meeting will be held Sept. 5 at 9 a.m.

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About Julia Arenstam

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