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Supervisors get some success in state’s tight-money budget

Despite a tight state budget situation, The MississippiAssociation of Supervisors is finding some success in the 2001legislative session, a top organization official told LincolnCounty officials Monday.

“Even though there’s no money, I feel like we’re having a decentyear,” said Joel Yelverton, MAS assistant executive director.

Yelverton updated supervisors on the status of several billspending in the legislature.

A Senate-passed bill to give county officials 10 percent payraises was struck in the House and replaced with language to allowraises for just tax assessors and collectors, Yelverton said. Thelegislative bodies will have to decide if they want to work outdifferences in conference.

In road-related matters, Yelverton said $12 million wasscheduled for continuation of the Local System Bridge Program tohelp counties repair deficient bridges. Lincoln County has the mostbridges in the state and supervisors are trying to take fulladvantage of LSBP funds.

“It’s a healthy program,” Yelverton said.

Another possibility for this session, Yelverton said, was aLocal System Road Program. It would allow, at supervisors’discretion, usage of up to 25 percent of a county’s State Aid roadfunds to be used for maintenance of non-State Aid, or off-system,roads.

District 1 Supervisor Cliff Givens was skeptical.

“We don’t have enough State Aid money to keep our State Aidroads up anyway,” the supervisor said.

Efforts to improve collection of garbage fees continue to meetresistance. Supervisors have sought more options for forcingresidents to pay the fees, but so far have had little luck.

“There’s not been any issue more gut-wrenching than collectionand disposal of garbage,” Yelverton said.

Yelverton indicated lawmakers have been reluctant to allowtaking of land for non-payment of fees. Currently, the only optionsare denying car tags, putting a lien on property, pursuingcollection in justice court and using a collection agency.

“We’ve done all that, and we’re still very short,” Givenssaid.

This year, supervisors raised the garbage fee from $6 a month to$7.50. Another increase is expected for next year.

Lincoln County officials said there was about a 5 to 8 percentdelinquency rate.

Yelverton said Lincoln County’s garbage fee and delinquency ratewere both pretty good. He mentioned one county that had a 62percent delinquency rate.

Kurt Thompson, executive director of the Mississippi EmploymentSecurity Commission, also spoke briefly to supervisors Monday. Hesaid MESC is looking at plans to renovate its local office onBrookway Boulevard to be able to expand its services.

Thompson said county’s 3.7 percent jobless rate was “excellent.”He was also glad that Mississippi was not suffering the number oflayoffs and other job reductions that other states were seeing.

“Mississippi is holding on pretty good,” Thompson said.

In other business Monday, County Engineer Carl Ray Furr said theCanadian National Railroad had sent the county $140,000 to assistwith repair and maintenance of several bridges go over railroads inthe county. Bridges targeted for assistance with the money includeones on Warren Avenue, at Bogue Chitto-Arlington and on RussellLane.