PRCC’s Lunch and Learn sheds light on taxes

Published 11:22 am Thursday, November 11, 2021

As the saying goes, two things in this life are certain, one of them is taxes.

While many adults reluctantly pay their taxes and forget about them, many may wonder where their hard earned taxes go and how they support the community.

That was the topic of Pearl River Community College’s Lunch and Learn, presented by County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin earlier this month.

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He began the presentation with a brief outline of the county’s budget. Pearl River County’s general fund totals $20 million for this fiscal year, of which about $12.7 million is generated locally from tax collections. The rest comes from federal sources ($2.4 million), state sources ($1.2 million), licenses, commissions and fees ($929,000), miscellaneous sources ($1.3 million) and various other sources.

That money helps fund the operation of 60 various departments, such as the road department, tax office and Sheriff’s Department. For example, about $9.1 million funds the general government, while another $7.8 million is used for public safety, which includes $6 million to fund the operation of the Sheriff’s Department and the jail.

Collecting those taxes is a complicated process that includes determining where property is located based on one of eight distinct tax districts, which are based on city and school district lines. While the rates vary by the school district and other factors, a large portion of a homeowner’s ad valorem taxes go to their respective school district.

As an example, those residents living within the Poplarville School District inside the city limits who have an annual ad valorem tax bill of about $1,000, 32 percent of that bill goes to the city, 34 percent goes to the school district, 21 percent goes to the county’s general fund, 2.81 percent goes to PRCC and 7.39 percent goes to the county’s road fund.

Residents in the same school district who live outside the city limits of Poplarville will see 48.26 percent of their tax bill go to the school district, 31 percent go to the county’s general fund, 10 percent goes to the road fund, 3.97 percent goes to PRCC and 6.5 percent goes to the “other” category.

Lumpkin added that the car tags also provide the county with funding and it’s also one of those things residents complain about having to pay.

But with those funds, some improvements have been made in the county, including a new annex for the county courthouse, a new meeting place for the Board of Supervisors and a soon to be completed office space for Lumpkin and his staff.

One other project still to be completed include a new office space for the MSU Extension Service set to be constructed off of Highway 26 near the National Guard armory.

A major challenge county governments face in funding is that a portion of sales tax collections are not sent to counties like they are to cities. The only new money coming to county governments at this point is due to a new law that allows for the collection of Internet sales tax, a portion of which is being sent to counties. The last payment to Pearl River County was for $1 million this year, which was more than the anticipated payment of about $440,000.