July 16, 2013 10:59:54 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Citing preliminary figures from the Lowndes County tax assessor's office, Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said the value of a general county mill may increase about $40,000, while school millage value could see a jump as high as $57,000.
The mills for the county are currently 40.01, while the Lowndes County School Districts mills are 47.76.
If the county chooses to keep those rates next fiscal year, it's possible the general millage, rounded off, would increase in value to $485,000 from $446,000, Sanders said. School millage value would increase from $274,000 to $331,000. The total millage would be up to $542,000 from $503,000.
Sanders said a growth in industry and population would be contributors if those increases occur, but extra money on the general tax rolls from the end of the 10-year fee-in-lieu for the Cogentrix electric generating facility in Caledonia would also be a factor.
"Next year they don't get that break anymore," Sanders said. "That's the majority of the increase."
Discussion of the possible value increase was preceded by discussion from District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith on the need for the county to organize an improvement plan for roads and public facilities throughout the county, emphasizing the need for improvements in Crawford.
"I'm in the poorest district in the county. Fact. I don't think (anybody) in here can argue that," Smith said. "The (most rural) portion of the county is District 4, and it has a lot of needs. Those needs have to be addressed. If this board is not willing to sit down to share in those concerns and ultimately find some solution, they'll continue to fall behind everyone else. They don't have the base.
"While this county has beat their chest and stood up to say they're proud they've moved ahead of everybody in the state of Mississippi in economic development and all the growth that comes with that, there are portions of this county that have struggled and not shown the growth. Those portions of that county are in District 4. We've got two-and-a-half years in this term, and we need to, if we can financially, find some resolution to some of my concerns. We can be very creative in doing that. There are some serious struggles in District 4, and it starts with the quality of roads we drive on every day."
Sanders agreed there were roads that were in inadequate condition and needed to be addressed, the county devotes 6.8 mills -- currently $3,032,800 -- to the road department.
"I'd like to be able to spend the money after we know for sure it's going to be here," Sanders said. "We've got all these scenarios where we're going to have extra money, but we haven't got it yet."
Board tables manhole request
Smith also presented supervisors with a request from Crawford leaders to use county resources to clear six manholes from obstructions. Noting they were on private property, he said the town would have to present easements for the county to legally perform the maintenance. Smith said a cherry picker was needed to address the overgrowth.
Sanders asked Smith if such a request would become a re-occurence, noting that if the board approved to do the work for Crawford, other county communities may ask the board to do the same for them.
"I would hope not, but under the circumstances of them not having the equipment to do it themselves, the fact that it needs to be done and the fact that we're working to do what we can to assist the town as we do with all the towns with some of their projects, (approval should be granted)," Smith replied.
"What has the town of Crawford been doing to allow those trees or bushes or whatever it is to grow up?" Sanders said. "Have they just been looking at them and ignoring them thinking somebody is going to come down there and do it for them?"
"Occasionally, we have assisted other governmental agencies in their requests to do work on projects that they have and don't have the capability of doing themselves," Smith responded. "That request is predicated on the fact that they have shown a pattern of assisting others and I'm hopeful that this is not a regular request. It's something that apparently they felt like they didn't have the capacity to do and they're reaching out to the county to assist."
After more discussion, supervisors agreed to table the agenda item until county personnel could gather more information on the scope of the project.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.