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Board of Supervisors passes $21M budget

Lincoln County’s operating budget is now official.

After weeks of revising and recalculating, the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors on Monday adopted a Fiscal Year 2019 budget that lays out $20.98 million in spending, including a half-mill tax increase to pay for new low-band radios for the Lincoln County Volunteer Firefighters Association and a 1.52-mill increase to meet the funding request of the Lincoln County School District.

District 2 Supervisor Bobby Watts made a motion the budget “is the best we can do,” and it passed on a 3-2 vote after District 1 Supervisor and Board President the Rev. Jerry Wilson and District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey voted against it.

“My biggest gripe is I need a little more money in my budget,” Wilson said. “We’re giving away a lot of money, and I’m not for that. I know my district is smaller, but still, we’re giving away money to somewhere else when I need it. Other than that, I’m fine with it, and that’s my piece.”

The new budget takes effect on Oct. 1, the first day of the fiscal year.

Supervisors also voted 4-0 Monday — Watts left early for a doctor’s appointment — to create the Zetus Volunteer Fire Department’s Grading District No. 2, establishing a new rated fire district in the West Lincoln community that could lead to home insurance price breaks for residents there.

The new district is Lincoln County’s seventh rated district — Zetus already has a Protection Class 7 district, as does Bogue Chitto, Hog Chain and New Sight. Loyd Star VFD has a Protection Class 8 district, while East Lincoln and Heucks Retreat are Protection Class 10. Lower numbers mean better fire protection.

Supervisors also reappointed Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop for another four-year term as the county’s commissioner for Region 8 Mental Health. District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey wanted to make sure Bishop’s retirement at the end of next year wouldn’t leave a two-year gap requiring the board to appoint someone else in 2019.

“When I retire, I would like to continue doing this if the board will allow me to,” Bishop said. “I started with them when they first came here, and I’ve gotten into it.”

Bishop pointed out he and Copiah County Chancery Clerk Steve Amos are the only two public officials on Region 8’s five-member board. The other three members are private citizens.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield asked supervisors to submit to him a list of voting precincts in their districts that could qualify for a grant from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office to pay for voting equipment or accessibility improvements.

Bairfield said Lincoln County could get $46,000 off a 5-percent match to pay for disabled parking improvements, walkways, handrails or other accessibility features.

“Look at your voting places, because whatever we do, we all have to agree, the board and the county election commission,” he said.

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson suggested a new wheelchair ramp for the Norfield precinct, and Wilson suggested improvements at Fair River.