By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – At least one supervisor is in favor of dipping into the county’s “rainy day fund” to supplement money budgeted for fuel during the current fiscal year.
District Three Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette made a plea to his peers to put $20,000 in each beat’s fuel fund, and $20,000 in the sheriff’s department’s fuel fund to offset the high price of fuel.
“Back in October when I was budgeting for fuel, I didn’t have a crystal ball,” Surrette explained in a passionate request made during the “first Monday” supervisor meeting in Coffeeville.
Surrette is not the first county official to stress that high fuel prices were causing budget problems. Sheriff Lance Humphreys told supervisors at an April meeting that his department would need as much as $15,000 to $20,000 to make it through the fiscal year, which ends in September.
“I am sitting here with a little more than $20,000 left in the fuel budget,” Surrette said, adding that it cost him $750 weekly just to operate a gravel truck.
Surrette said he shut down the gravel truck for three weeks as a cost-saving measure.
“We stayed busy doing other things,” the supervisor added.
“This is something I would like to propose, we have a rainy day fund and the fuel situation has us in a rainy day,” Surrette added.
He did not ask for an immediate decision, but said he would be returning to Arkansas to continue extensive cancer treatment and the decision could be made at a future meeting.
“The money is there,” District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn said, adding that if $120,000 was removed from the fund, the county would still have right at a half a million dollars left.
Vaughn pointed to the sheriff’s department as an example, noting that supervisors budgeted $33,000 for the current fiscal year for the sheriff’s department when over $38,000 was consumed during the previous fiscal year, 2006-2007.
“I am going to be all right,” Vaughn also said, referring to his fuel budget. In a beat system, each supervisor prepares his own budget annually creating five separate budgets.
“We need to treat everybody equal,” Surrette replied when Vaughn said he could forego the $20,000 fuel money.
“It would not be a tax increase, we have prepared for this with this rainy day fund,” Vaughn added as the budget discussion waned.
Other business discussed Monday included:
• Approved a request to transfer $5,000 in Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney’s budget to pay jurors. Burney made the request after noting May would be a busy month for trials.
Jurors will be selected for an anticipated trial of Darryl Necaise, Jr. on May 19. Necaise is charged in the 2007 assault of Lawrence Covington. A second week of court in the First Judicial District is scheduled the following week. Keith Blackburn, who is charged in the June 2007 capital murder, kidnapping and rape, is scheduled for trial.
• Accepted Staton Scrap Metal as the highest bidder for five used Crown Victoria vehicles. Staton bid $305 of four of the vehicles and $655 on the fifth vehicles. The cars had been used by the sheriff’s department. Another vehicle, a drug-seized 1998 Pontiac Trans Am was sold to Griffin Motors for $800.
• Received a report of 390 2008 new homestead applications. These applications stemmed from Yalobushians who purchased property in 2007, became over 65 or disabled, or had a loss of husband or wife.
• Approved a list from the Mississippi State Tax Commission disallowing homestead applications. Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn said she received the list from the tax commission. An approximate 30 people on the list were flagged in Jackson for either failure to pay income taxes or filing in other counties.
• Approved termite work to be performed at the county’s two courthouses. Pass Termite will treat the Water Valley Courthouse at a cost of $2,000 and Guardian Pest Control will treat the Coffeeville Courthouse at a cost of $2,400.