Lincoln County approves $20 million 2017-2018 budget

Published 10:42 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

Lincoln County supervisors Friday approved a $20 million budget, but not unanimously.

Ward 1 Supervisor Jerry Wilson voted against it.

“I suspect he voted against it for the same reason he voted against the budget last year,” said County Administrator David Fields. “He’s not happy with the way the money is divided up for roads and bridges among the districts.”

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Wilson did not return messages asking for a comment on the vote.

The budget was passed as proposed earlier this month with no changes. A public hearing held Friday just minutes prior to the vote was poorly attended. No one from the public showed.

The largest change from the current budget to the proposed budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, falls into two categories — improvements and court costs.

Supervisors budgeted $500,000 to be used for improvements to the Lincoln County Government Complex, which  includes replacing the damaged flat roof on the jail. They’ve also added $85,000 to the general fund for use in the prosecution of a capital murder trial for William Cory Godbolt.

Other planned expenses in the 2017-2018 fiscal year include:

• Copiah-Lincoln Community College — $567,494.

• Baseball park bond payment of $160,000.

• Industrial Park bond payment of $150,000.

• Industrial Park bond II payment of $160,000.

• Library bond payment of $259,999.

• Lincoln County Public Library — $236,131.

• 911 Emergency fund — $650,000.

• Livestock complex — $615,480.

• Baseball park operations — $241,000.

• Garbage and solid waste — $1,356,768.

• Litter and solid waste — $75,000.

• Volunteer fire departments — $221,241.

• Public safety funds — $3,318,668.

• General county fund — $5,223,937.

• Health and welfare — $153,160.

• Conservation of natural resources — $108,180.

• Economic development and assistance — $268,900.

The total anticipated revenue for the budget is $20.39 million, which is up $1.32 million from the 2016-2017 budget of $19.07 million.

Supervisors expect to spend most of that though, with expenses of $20.17 million anticipated. That’s an increase of $1.21 million from the 2016-2017 budget expenditures of $18.95 million.

The tax levy millage from the county has not changed, remaining at 54.83. However, the Lincoln County School Board asked for a tax levy increase of 3 mills to cover their anticipated expenditures. That will put the the school millage at 50.79 for the 2017-2018 year, which means the total millage for property taxes will be 105.62, up from the current 102.62.

Property values have also increased across the county, from a total county-wide assessed value of $283.03 million in 2016-2017 to $289.07 million — an increase of more than $6 million. The assessed value of school properties has increased from $107.19 million to $110.12 million — an increase of just under $3 million.

“We’re not trying to raise the tax rate,” said Fields, “but we’re holding it at the same place.”

Supervisors for each of the county’s five districts have their own budgets for roads and bridges. These budgets are determined based on number of road miles and number of bridges in each district, as well as anticipated repairs. Fields explained that increases in each district’s bridge budgets came about through decreases in their respective road budgets.

Bridge budgets have been raised because County Engineer Ryan Holmes has advised the Board of Supervisors that federal inspection groups will likely close several bridges. These are anticipated due to closures in other parts of the state for bridges with wooden pilings.

These budgets are as follows:

• District 1 Jerry Wilson — road maintenance $283,063, bridge maintenance $196,629.

• District 2 Bobby Watts — road maintenance $591,350, bridge maintenance $410,159.

• District 3 Nolan Williamson — road maintenance $720,270, bridge maintenance $499,347.

• District 4 Eddie Brown — road maintenance $627,784, bridge maintenance $435,364.

• District 5 Doug Falvey — road maintenance $580,139, bridge maintenance $402,402.

According to Jeff Dungan of Dungan Engineering, Lincoln County is second in the state for the number of bridges that include wooden components. With a total of 306 bridges in the county, Lincoln is third in the state for the most bridges. Lincoln is 26th, however, in assessed value of bridges — $281.7 million.

“What that means is that we’ve got more bridges than pretty much everybody else and less money to spend on them,” said Fields.

Each district’s supervisor has absolute control over utilizing the funds in their bridge and road budgets, he said.