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Modest increase in Copiah property values, even in recession

Copiah supervisors were advised July 7 that there were modest increases in property values during the year in all categories except motor vehicles as the tax rolls for 2009 were presented to begin the legal process of adoption.

True value of real property increased to $789,409,740 up from $764,433,560 from 2008. Personal property increased to $169,842,113, up from $168,878,267. Public utility value increased to $57,816,470 from $42,627,270 and mobile homes increased to $20,849,980 from $20,176,127.

Motor vehicle values decreased from $115,118,200 in 2008 to $108,040,287 in the county with the grand total property value of $1,145,958,590 in 2009 up from $1,111,233,424 in 2008.

Advertisement of the opening of the tax rolls for public view will appear July 15 and they will be ready for inspection on or before August 3.

Other Matters

Copiah Human Resource Director Bonnie Gustavis discussed the following with the board. Her agency is serving 1343 through the food pantry, up recently from 800. She inquired about building plans for a separate facility or addition to the present facility. She received approval to continue Meals on Wheels in Crystal Springs even though the program is above budget by $11,115. Supervisors agreed to reimburse the 10 percent of insurance premiums owed on the agency’s buses and advanced her monthly allotment by two weeks. She was advised to work with the county attorney in securing a loan commitment as “working capital” when state and federal payments do not arrive on time to avoid late fees and overdraft charges. Copiah supports the agency about $100,000 per year, up from the initial $35,000 per year when it was established. Gustavis will report to Simpson County on the programs being utilized in Copiah.

Bill Russell of the Soil & Water Conservation District reported on the district’s activities and presented his request for a budget increase from the $20,000 per year Copiah presently furnishes. He said that the county receives $40 for every dollar it spends in support of the district.

Ricky Stevens, E-911 Director, asked the county to consider a burn ban at their next meeting July 10. The recent rain eased the situation somewhat. Stevens was authorized to attend a Flood Plain Administrator’s Conference.

Supervisors agreed to formulate a liability policy on use of the fairgrounds facilities after consulting their insurance agent. State law exempts Copiah from most liability when the facilities are used for livestock but other liability exposure is a problem for the county at the facility.

Copiah continued its effort to explain the law concerning tax exemption on church property. State law exempts church property but the exemption does not apply to property owned by a church that is income producing.

An announced public hearing on modification of Copiah’s solid waste plan to allow Jones Lumber Company to establish a trash pit on its own property was postponed until July 10 at 10 a.m.

Bids were awarded to S & S Dragline for bridge repair, to Hansen for bridge slabs and to Contex for culverts.

Richard McInnis of the Mississippi State Forestry Commission advised the supervisors that timber on a forestry demonstration plot near Redbone Church on Highway 28 contains about $24,000 worth of timber. The supervisors asked the commission to market the timber so it can be placed in an account for use of the 4-H Clubs for which the plot was established. The supervisors plan for the property to revert to the family of the late benefactor, F. D. Barlow since it will no longer be used for the established purpose. A request by Copiah Water Association for right of way on the property was granted.

Copiah County Economic Development District Director Neil Honan advised that permission has been received to use the county’s leverage money (about $60-70,000) for signage on the MDA-CDBG grant for improvement of Advance Lane in the Gallman Industrial Park. Quotations are being sought on the sign requirements. Work has already begun with moving of utility lines and grading on the road. A progress payment was allowed the contractor on this project. Honan congratulated the board on the work that went into receiving the Economic Development Administration’s grant for the new water well in the park, saving Copiah about $570,000 that repayment of a CAP loan would have cost. A letter formally accepting the grant was signed July 2.

Supervisors discussed a legislative bill that will require the county to declare upon reappraisal of the county that any decrease of the tax rate was caused by the reappraisal rather than action by the supervisors.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is requesting that Copiah refund $38,000 for road cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, claiming that Copiah was double reimbursed for the work through the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The county is studying the request.

Right of way has been secured for the Blocker Road project. The plans for the Dentville-Jack Road project were presented to the supervisors and the plans have also been submitted to State Aid.

Letters of engagement for the state to conduct the audit for Copiah County were signed.

The interim report of the Circuit Court Grand Jury was incorporated into the minutes.

Advertisement for liquid asphalt bids to be opened July 20 was authorized.

A deputy sheriff was authorized training expense for a seminar at Brandon on sexual assault. The resignation of Jeremy McKenzie was accepted and Marcus O’Quin was moved from part to full time employment. The sheriff was authorized to purchase six new Tasers at a cost of $4,800 utilizing upgraded technology from grant money or the drug fund.

The county attorney advised supervisors of three possible legal actions against the county and comments on the Tommy Johnson birthplace matter.

Justice Court Judge Ramsey was authorized to attend the Justice Court Clerk’s Convention and the Court Clerk Carolyn Morgan was authorized to attend a seminar at Louisville.

Supervisors were advised of problems at the Department of Human Services with doors recently installed and supervisors agreed to look into the matter.

The garbage payment of a citizen who paid in advance and moved from the state was refunded.

Officials recessed until Friday, July 10 at 9 a.m.

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