Pike County Administrator Tami Dangerfield presented supervisors Friday with a proposed budget and tax levy that calls for a 2-mill tax increase, or $20 extra a year on a $100,000 house.
Supervisors have said they don’t want to raise taxes, but Dangerfield said projected increases in health insurance and other coverage coupled with a decline in revenues make that difficult.
A mill brings in about $289,000.
Supervisors took the notebook-sized budget with them to study over the weekend. They meet 8 a.m. Monday and will also have a budget work session 8 a.m. Aug. 10.
The proposed budget totals $41.9 million.
Dangerfield budgeted $66,800 in contributions to various agencies, including $8,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Mississippi, $11,000 to Keep Pike County Beautiful, $25,000 to Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center, $1,500 to Southwest Mississippi Christian Outreach Ministry, $1,500 to the Salvation Army, $10,000 to Southwest Mississippi Community College Workforce Training Center, $5,000 to American Red Cross and $4,800 to Osyka Library. All are the same as last year.
The preliminary total assessed valuation for the county is $320 million, up $3 million from the prior year. But other revenue sources such as oil severance taxes have gone down, so Dangerfield projected a net decline in income to the county.
She also projected a need to increase garbage fees or add taxes to cover an increase in garbage pickup costs, plus an increase in jail inmate feeding and medical costs.
Most department budgets remained the same as last year or increased just enough to cover health insurance costs. The Scenic Rivers Development Alliance budget was decreased by $30,000.
The total proposed countywide tax levy would be 62.46 mills, plus 1 mill for garbage and solid waste and 2.5 for the volunteer fire fund. That does not include municipal and school taxes.
Sheriff James Brumfield said he will be over budget this year on feeding prisoners and providing their medical care. He said the jail averages 127 inmates.
“We have a lot of residents in there that have serious medical issues that we have to pay for, unfortunately,” Brumfield said.
On the other hand, his department has saved money by switching the jail phone service to a company that gives the county a higher commission.
Brumfield noted that the McComb Police Department, which has lost a number of officers to the sheriff’s office, raised its pay and now offers $2,600 more a year than the sheriff’s department does for officers.
Supervisors also heard a funding request from A Clear Path mental health district. Executive Director Sherlene Vince asked supervisors to fund the agency at the same level as last year, when the prior board increased its allotment by $55,000.
Supervisors said other counties in the district didn’t increase their allocation, but Vince said Amite County supervisors agreed to do so for the upcoming fiscal year, and she will approach other county boards next week.
Vince said the 40-plus-year-old agency has had to dip into its reserves over the past 10 to 15 years for a variety of reasons. But it received funding for “telehealth” equipment due to the coronavirus, and for a Crisis Stabilization Unit in Natchez that will employ 20 to 25 people.
Clear Path administrative assistant Lance Moak said the agency has 75 full-time employees, nearly half of whom live in Pike County.
In a related matter, supervisors appointed Johnny Scott to replace Karen Fairburn on the Clear Path board of commissioners.