Slight tax decrease planned for Copiah County

The Copiah County Board of Supervisors opened Monday’s recessed session with a public hearing on the proposed budget for the new fiscal year.

The only member of the public to offer input stated concerns about the county’s proposed .99 mill decrease in taxes. A mill is expected to bring in about $142,000.

The citizen asked the board if they had really assessed the needs in the county before making the decision to lower taxes. Roads and bridges need work, he said, adding that Copiah County pays relatively low taxes compared to other parts of the country.

Supervisors explained that most of the county’s major road and bridge work is financed with state and federal funds. The county has plans to replace eight or nine bridges this year.

When questioned about an emergency fund, Supervisor Perry Hood explained, “The county has a surplus of funds, not as much as we used to have,” to access in emergencies. “We would never have enough money to do what we need to do.” Although some roads are not what supervisors would like them to be, the county’s roads are adequate, supervisors said.

Details of the budget can be found in a public notice elsewhere in this issue.

JAIL INMATES

Sheriff Harold Jones informed the board that the state has notified them that the jail is not in compliance and may face being decertified to house state inmates.

There is a federal population target that the state wants to meet. The Copiah County jail has been exceeding the recommended number of inmates consistently, the notice said.

“There’s not really anything we can do about it,” he said. “It is what it is. We have that many inmates. We can’t turn them loose.”

The county applied to house a regional jail facility last year, but the Legislature did not approve the project. Even if a regional jail in Copiah County is approved in the next session, it would be at least three years before it could be built, Jones said.

If the county is decertified, state inmates will be transferred from the county jail within 30 days.

OTHER BUSINESS

All of the county’s election commissioners have qualified for re-election. None have opposition. Also on the ballot in November will be a Copiah County School Board member. Candidates are incumbent H.F. Lunceford, Debra Sturgis Stamps, and David L. Henderson. The Copiah County School Board will appoint someone to serve in the place of the late Walter Bell, but the election to fill this post will likely be held after the November election.

Dedication services for the courthouse renovations are tentatively scheduled for October 28 at 10 a.m.

State Tax Commission personnel have been invited to a board meeting to explain the taxing procedures on the new pipelines in the county.

Gary Gavlock of Weldon Construction reported that his firm is constructing a 42 inch pipeline three miles across the northeast corner of the county, parallel to the existing line. The construction firm is headquartered in Crystal Springs.

Employment of Randy Powell as part time dispatcher in the 911 office was approved. The resignation of Troy Hamilton in the road department was accepted, and Nathan Catchings and Willie Smith were employed.

Mike Corkern of Airport Development Group updated the board on difficulties with the t-hangar project.

Plans are in the works for a new water well at the industrial park. The county has been approved for a $1 million capital improvements loan. The well is not expected to cost half that, but the  additional funds can be drawn down if needed for more improvements for new industries.

Fred Phillips was reappointed trustee for Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital.

The county engineer recommended five bridges for replacement. Supervisors added the bridges to the LSBP schedule. The worst rated bridges scheduled for replacement soonest are on Bobbitt Road and Blocker Road. The other three bridges added to the program are on Sugar Farm Road, County Farm Road, and Brushy Creek Road. The engineer said they can probably do them all with available funds, if the bids come in as expected.

Roof repairs are needed on the courthouse. The administrator was asked to check on the warranty of the last roof replacement.

The board passed resolutions setting the tax levy and authorizing the amendment of the budget for the current fiscal year by the deadline.

Supervisors recessed until Monday, Sept. 29, at 9 a.m.

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