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Residents facing higher tax burden

WESSON – The mayor and board of aldermen approved Tuesday anincrease in the town’s millage rate for the upcoming fiscalyear.

The increase from 26.25 to 28.875 will result in homeownerspaying approximately $20 to $30 more a year in municipalityproperty taxes, said Mayor Alton Shaw.

“Taxes have not been raised in Wesson since the late 1980s, andI think we can all agree that expenses have significantly increasedsince that time,” he added.

Shaw explained that the increased millage rate will benefit thethree departments that need it the most – police, fire and the townlibrary.

“Considering the current demise of society in general and thecurrent tragedy of a nearby officer, it is necessary to assist ourpolice by allowing additional man hours and updating some neededequipment,” said Shaw, referring to a Crystal Springs officer whowas killed in the line of duty recently.

He also explained that the Fire Department has been receivingless funding from the state due to funding being spread among firedepartments in Copiah County, which has added additionaldepartments in recent years.

Funding for the library will be used to aide in the expansion ofthe library and possibly extend operating hours.

Shaw pointed out that with the increased millage rate Wesson isstill among the lowest in the area.

Comparable towns are Georgetown with a rate of 28.50, Bude at36.00, Summit with 36.25 and Magnolia at 29.90.

There were no objections to the increased millage rate. Aldermenvoted unanimously to accept the new budget.

In other increases, aldermen voted to increase the fee forgarbage, water and sewage service by approximately 50 cents.

“It still keeps us cheaper than what the county is charging,”said Shaw.

Hurricane-related action included aldermen declaring anemergency disaster, which will allow the town to be eligible forfederal assistance.

“We’re still not sure yet exactly what, if anything, we’re goingto get,” said Shaw.

Fire Chief Randle Drane thanked everyone for their support andhelp during the recent time of crisis. Several aldermen also voicedappreciation for the work of town employees and residents.

Shaw said the town never lost water or radio communication andthe general operating structure kept running smoothly.

“I think it’s a compliment to the heads of those departments,”he said. “It’s amazing to me the people in this community that wehave.”

During open discussion, several residents from the Byrd Streetarea expressed dissatisfaction with emergency services in the pastweek.

“We haven’t had a pathway to our house since Monday, and westill don’t have power,” said Wayne Grinstead.

Grinstead was accompanied by his wife, Monica, hissister-in-law, Theresa Afanador, and his mother-in-law, DoreathaAiles, who all live in the Byrd Street area.

Grinstead said he was upset that the children had to startschool Wednesday but could not bathe or prepare for schoolproperly.

The group said they felt that they did not have power yetbecause most of the residents in that area are black.

“That’s the only problem I have with Wesson. They forget aboutByrd Street,” Afanador said.

Aldermen assured the family that Entergy was overloaded withwork and that people of all races were still without power.

“It doesn’t have anything to do with race,” said Shaw. “Entergyis not picking houses. It’s just how the lines run.”