County supervisors address budget for new yearBy PAT BROWN,
In the process of creating a new budget for the upcoming year, the Simpson County Board of Supervisors held a budget workshop last Wednesday.
The value of a general mill has been established at $190,478.
Funding for economic development efforts has been reduced from the requested one mill that has been set aside for the past couple of years to approximately $110,000; however, the board is budgeted to receive $110,000, which represents the expenses that were incurred for operations for the previous year. This will leave just over $1 million in funds available for economic development projects for the county.
The board decided to transfer the balance to the county road department for paving, increasing funds in the amount of $66,435. The City of Magee would get $7,460, Mendenhall $2,747 and D’Lo $339.
Donnie Caughman, executive director of the Simpson County Development Foundation, which will administer the funds, was asked what the intended excess would be used for. He said no specific need had been identified at this point other than funding that would be needed to create future infrastructure prospects.
The board agreed to a 3 percent raise across the board for county employees. The cost associated with this raise and benefits is projected to be an additional $168,772.
While the board did not vote to give themselves a raise that had been approved by the Mississippi Legislature in its last session, they did approve the funds to do so, and they put money into the account to give board raises of $1,212 per supervisor per year if they vote to do so. Actual approval of the raise for county supervisors would require a separate vote by the board if they choose to accept the increase.
Board members currently earn $40,400 per year. In addition to the supervisors, the mandated raises would also apply to the justice court judges, county attorney and the county prosecutor.
Additionally the board approved a request from Robby Sullivan representing the Simpson County Junior Livestock Association. The association requested that the supervisors budget $27,900 to build a metal building at the site of the livestock barn. Th facility would allow them to park equipment in a secure area and reduce the possibility of theft.
Department heads submitted budget requests to County Administrator Rhuel Dickinson for review and submission to the board. Following the board’s directives Dickinson submitted adjusted budget figures to the board. These recommendations were based on actual expenses along with projected expenses for the upcoming year. A majority of the local increases represented employee raises and benefits.
The circuit clerk’s office requested an increase of $18,717 for the coming year.
The tax assessor’s office asked for an additional $54,696. The largest part of this increase is for new certification requirements.
The county administrator’s office requested an increase of $12,207.
Juvenile court is anticipating the need for an increase of just over $19,000. The cost of housing for juveniles is increasing from $150 per night to $300 in Rankin County, where Simpson County juveniles are held. The court is also considering the use of ankle monitors as an alternative, which increases the cost from $5,000 to almost $10,000.
Operational costs for Justice Court requires an additional $26,000.
The Sheriff’s Department is requesting an additional $170,000, which includes $90,000 for the purchase of vehicles. Money was budgeted for that need this year, but those funds could not be used because the department violated overtime laws and a large settlement had to be paid, approximately $80,000 to $90,000. Also, the county is currently paying the salary for two sheriffs, appointed Sheriff Greg Reynolds and Sheriff Donald O’Cain, who is recovering from a medical problem.
There is a request to increase the jail budget almost $144,000.
The county is budgeting $90,000 for three new pickup trucks in the road department. The road maintenance fund has a total of $3.6 million budgeted for the upcoming year. The bridge and culvert fund has $619,000. These numbers are rounded.
Solid Waste has a budget of $1.17 million, which is an increase over last year, but the plan is to start replacing the fleet of garbage trucks. The department is seeing an increase in cost, which, as in other departments is largely due to employee raises and benefits.
This is a summary of some of the expenses presented. These figures have not been adopted by the board. However, they are most likely to be adopted at the September 13 board meeting when the total new budget will be adopted for the new year which starts on October 1.