Board reaches out to legislators

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors and county engineer have teamed up with local legislators in an effort to get more state funding for infrastructure.

Rep. Becky Currie and Rep. Vince Mangold were present at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting to discuss the recent Mississippi Economic Council’s report outlining dire need for infrastructure funding. In Lincoln County, programs such as the Local System Bridge Program and State Aid are vital to keeping infrastructure in tact.

“We were fortunate this last year, the supervisors did a great job with repairs and some maintenance themselves, so we didn’t have to close any,” County Engineer Ryan Holmes said about bridges. “But they’re doing the best they can with local money, and I think additional state money will help.”

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District 1 Supervisor Rev. Jerry Wilson said it will take a team effort to push these concerns to the forefront in Jackson.

“I need funds — I mean we all need it — and we rely upon you all to help us out,” Wilson said to the legislators. “It’s a together thing — it can’t be a one-man game.”

The Local System Bridge Program, on which counties desperately rely, is currently funded at $20 million per year statewide. State aid that counties receive is funded by the fuel tax, which, according to Currie, is not expected to be increased any time soon. Counties are to receive 16 to 21 percent from the fuel tax collected, though District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson said Lincoln County has been receiving just 4 percent.

“We need to be right there in the middle of it, and I’ll be glad to do whatever I need to do to make sure we get those monies,” Currie said. “Back to the $20 million — I’d love to see that increase. There’s no doubt that the one year that it wasn’t funded was a huge mistake, and we all know that, and we’re all still suffering from that one year (three years ago when LSBP wasn’t funded) and hopefully that will never happen again — but I’d love to see that money increase.”

Currie said she would set up meetings with the appropriate entities such as heads of the Mississippi Development Authority and the president of the Highway Commission. Armed with facts from the county engineer and the knowledge of the dire state of Lincoln County’s roads and bridges, Currie said area legislators can apply pressure to find solutions.

“These are things we need to look at desperately,” Currie said. “In not raising the fuel tax and making that happen we need to sit down and have meetings to ask why aren’t we getting what was in line? Let’s get [them] in a room and let’s talk about why are we just getting 4 percent? Let’s talk to the state aid people. I think it’d be a good idea, I can get these folks in a room — just name the date.”

Wilson and other members of the board discussed regular meetings between the Board of Supervisors and local legislators, which Currie said she supported as a good idea.

“We should come together and make Lincoln County a great county,” Wilson said. “The city of Brookhaven, we all just work together here to accomplish the goal that is out there, you know? Be a blessing to the people — that’s what its all about.”

“It’s a together thing, that’s exactly right,” Currie said.

New Board president

The meeting included its two newly elected members, District 2 Supervisor Bobby Watts and District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey. Watts was voted to be board president, following Eddie Brown who served two years in the position. Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop said generally every two years the board president is changed.

MLK parade

Local NAACP president Bernetta Character invited the board to walk in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King parade to be held Jan. 17 starting at 3 p.m.

In other business, the board moved to receive documents of all uncollected taxes for real and personal property and motor homes from outgoing Tax Assessor/Collector Rita Goss.

The board entered into executive session to discuss personnel.

The next meeting of the board of supervisors will be on Tuesday, Jan 19 at 9 a.m. as that Monday is Martin Luther King Day.