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County Taps Reserves For Budget

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY–Supervisors agreed to lightly tap reserves to keep from increasing the county’s millage rate for the 2013-14 fiscal year that gets underway in October.
    Working in a budget meeting Monday, county officials learned that the county’s general fund would be short $57,733 without a tax increase.        
    Of that amount, roughly $37,000 comes from mandated increases and includes pay raises for some county officials, plus increases in insurance and retirement costs.
    The mandated pay raises come after the assessed value of the county will exceed 75,000,000 in the new fiscal year. Supervisors, justice court judges and the county prosecutor will see an increase from $33,700 annually to $34,700 annually,  based on Mississippi Code of 1972, Section 25-3-13.
    The increase for the base pay for the tax assessor/collector climbs from $48,500 to $52,500, based on Missis-sippi Code of 1972, 25-3-3.
    “The sheriff had some (overage) on feeding the prisoners and stuff that he didn’t have any control over,” Board President Tommy Vaughn explained Monday as the remaining portion of the $57,733 increase was discussed.
    “Instead of increasing the millage, we can take that out of that escrow fund and we will have a level budget without an increase in millage,’ Vaughn recommended.
    Although millage will not increase, Vaughn explained that some taxpayers still could could see a tax increase if their property’s assessed value increased due to reassessment in the county.
    The $57,733 was transferred from the county’s escrow account, which had a balance of around $500,000 before the shift.    
    Before the transfer, the escrow account had around a half-million in it, according to Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn.
    The budget became a lean issue when supervisors learned that the actual taxable value of the county grew less that one percent for the 2013-2014 fiscal year. A public hearing is scheduled on September 13 for the budget and tax levy.
    Other business discussed in Monday’s meeting included:
    • Supervisors agreed to fund a three percent increase in the amount the county funds Communicare annually, from $19,690 to $20,280.
    Communicare’s executive director Sandy Rogers told county officials that Com-municare had not received a funding increase in Yalobusha County since 2007.
    The total budget for Communicare’s six county service is $6.93 million, according to Rogers. She also reported that Communicare employs 14 people in Yalobusha County for an annual payroll of about $385,000.
    •  Approved a request from Sheriff Lance Humphreys to fund new computer software for his department. Humphreys said his current software is a decade old and requires constant maintenance.  He estimated the cost would be around $10,000.
    • Discussed hiring Walt Dinkelacker to steer the county through a wetland mitigation process with the U.S. Corps of Engineers on the jail property. Dinkelacker explained that the proposed jail site on County Road 436 contains just under a half-acre of wetlands.
    Dinkelacker explained the county would have to purchase credits through the Corps at an estimated cost of $13 to $14 thousand to replace the wetlands. He also said his fee would be $6,000 to handle the transaction.
    His request was tabled to give county officials time to check other options.
    • Approved applications from logging operations to exceed the posted weight limits while hauling timber. The permits were granted for B&Y Timber on CR 85 in District 5, Timberland Harvesters on CR 95 and 436 in District 1 and 2, and Steve Cummings on CR 212 in District 1.

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