Moak takes reins as new board president

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors has a direct connectionto a state policy-shaping machine now that the board presidency hasrotated.

District Four Supervisor Doug Moak assumed the board presidencyMonday and will serve in that seat for the next two years. Whilethe title of board president brings little real authority to countyaffairs, Moak’s position as chairman of the Mississippi Associationof Supervisors’ Legislative Committee puts him in a unique positionto decipher county policies and needs to state officials – and viceversa.

“It kind of gives us an inside view,” Moak said of his duties.”It’s good for (state officials) to see someone in direct contactwith the local government to help them explain some of thesituations we are facing out in the counties.”

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With the 2010 legislative session now under way, Moak’sstatewide duties are in full swing. He and other MAS officials metMonday with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant to outline the association’sbiggest concerns for the session, most of which center aroundfunding.

With massive cuts expected in many areas of the state budget,MAS is trying to ensure the Legislature does not pass costs down tothe county level by cutting reimbursements for Homestead Exemptionsand inmate care, he said. MAS is also lobbying for the protectionof state road and bridge funds passed to counties annually.

Those issues carry heavy weight in Lincoln County, wheresupervisors have been forced to drastically cut down on road andbridge projects due to shortened funding. Likewise, criminaljustice funding on the local level eats up around 60 percent of thecounty’s $15.2 million budget.

“We’re just trying to keep our heads above water,” Moak said.”(Bryant) was very careful to explain to us it’s going to be tougheconomic times and some hard decisions will be made. We understandthat, but we want to let them know what directly affects us.”

On the local level, Moak plans to continue the team approach andshuns the notion that being president of the board brings addedinfluence.

“I have a vote just like everyone else, and we’re going to dothe best we can,” he said. “Board presidents always have two thingsabout them – they moderate the meetings and sign thepaperwork.”

Under Moak’s presidency, the board will almost immediatelyoversee a potential economic growth spurt.

Supervisors toured Rex Lumber LLC Wednesday morning to grasp thecompany’s needs and future plans, which have been kept under wrapssince it acquired the former Columbus Lumber Co. sawmill. The boardon Monday approved a list of tax incentives to new industry GreatSouthern Wood Preserving, Inc., which plans on opening for businessby Feb. 1.

Work on the incentives began in December under the presidency ofDistrict One Supervisor the Rev. Jerry Wilson, who rotated out ofthe position.

Moak said he would also continue spreading the word aboutLinbrook Business Park while attending MAS meetings and othersupervisor conferences.

“We have vendor shows, and we let people know we’re out thereand what’s going on,” he said. “I would like to see us get somehits on that.”

District Three Supervisor Nolan Williamson is the board’s newvice president.