Supes near on budget
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 1:00 AM
With a $5 million increase in Neshoba County's assessed value, the Board of Supervisors on Monday reviewed the "wish lists" from county department heads for Fiscal Year 2015 which, if granted, would cost the county more than $822,000.
Supervisors plan to finalize a budget for FY 2015 next Monday but voiced opposition to a tax increase to fund expenditures.
County Administrator Benjie Coats said the increase in the county's assessed value would generate an additional $150,000 for the county's general fund for the new year.
He expects the county to see between $6,350,000 and $6,375,000 in revenue for the general fund in FY 2015.
The board voiced support for a 50-cents-an-hour pay raise for all county employees on Monday.
Some department heads had asked for a $1 an hour raise for their employees, but supervisors noted on Monday that all employees were given a 50 cents raise the previous year.
Coats told supervisors that the county couldn't fund an additional $1 an hour pay raise per employee.
"Basically you told the department heads that 50 cents would be what we would try to work toward this year," he said.
He reminded supervisors that they were facing a 35-percent increase in health insurance costs for county employees as well as several other increases mandated by state law.
Those include raising the Sheriff's annual salary from $73,792 to $90,000 as well as salary increases in the tax office for employees completing mandatory training.
Other funding additions for FY 2015, Coats said, included an additional employee in Justice Court, a new scanning system for Circuit Court along with the monthly service fee, and increased utilities and other expenses associated with the new Emergency Operations Center which opened earlier this year among numerous other expenses.
Coats also reminded supervisors that the library, park, museum, Art Council and Soil and Water Conversation Service were also asking for increases for the new fiscal year.
"I found out Friday that the [Department of] Human Services has got to replace an air conditioning unit and is having a problem with the other unit," Coats said. "We are going to have to replace the boiler here at the courthouse. And then, there is an elevator in the courthouse that's not working and the need for new flooring for the coliseum. Have I stirred it up enough?"
Coats said the county's department and agency heads had legitimate needs for the new fiscal year.
"I'm not knocking anyone's requests," he said. "They are trying to carry out a function and a service and it takes money to do that. Everything is on the table. It's your budget, not mine."
Soil and Water is asking for an additional $6,200; the library, $3,800; welfare department, $13,000; health department, $9,000 an Weems Community Mental Health, $1,800.
Parks and Recreation is seeking an additional $11,747 from the county.
Director Chris Burt told supervisors that the park was receiving about $15,000 less from the United Way of Neshoba County annually.
"That's the reality of where we are at," Burt said. "It is hard to recover funds when you lose them. The only way is to increase fees and I personally think they are where they need to be."
Burt told supervisors that his department was facing a 15-percent increase in health insurance this year, paying about $455 per employee per month.
Park Commissioner Kent Stribling told the board that the park's budget had decreased about 3 percent since reopening in 2009 following a major expansion.