Pike County supervisors went ahead with plans for a 2-mill tax increase Tuesday after receiving no comments at a public hearing.
However, prior to the hearing they did get advice and comments from a Progress resident, some of them pertaining to the budget.
A 2-mill increase will mean an additional $20 a year on a $100,000 house, plus higher car tags. One tax mill brings in $289,000 in Pike County.
Supervisors approved the $41.9 million budget and 65.96-mill tax levy, which doesn’t include school or municipal taxes.
At board attorney Wayne Dowdy’s advice, Supervisor Jake Gazzo abstained from voting since his wife works for Southwest Mississippi Community College, which receives funds from the board.
Earlier in the meeting, Eddie Simmons of Progress commended the board but urged members to work together as a team and be more accessible to the public.
He asked his own supervisor, Lee Fortenberry, to make his phone number known to the public. And he asked supervisors to pay more attention to roads in the southern part of the county, especially Stateline, Emerald Stateline, Osyka-Progress and Magnolia-Progress roads.
“The southern part of the county has not been attended to in years,” Simmons said.
Fortenberry said supervisors have been hampered this year by the coronavirus, which has affected a number of county employees.
“Every road you mentioned is on the list to get done,” Fortenberry said.
“This COVID situation, since we’ve been in office, we’ve had about half a road crew. Either they’ve been tested, had COVID or some of their family members (had it).”
As for accessibility, “My phone, yesterday, Labor Day, I got 12 calls,” Fortenberry said.
Board president Sam Hall agreed with Simmons about the roads.
“The southern part of the county is by far the worst,” he said.
As for the budget, Simmons questioned donations the board makes to various agencies. Such allocations this year include $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 Salvation Army, $10,000 to SMCC Workforce Training Center, $5,000 to American Red Cross, $4,800 to Osyka Library and $8,400 to the National Guard.
“If the county is in desperate need of money, why are you giving away our revenue?” Simmons said.
“I’m not saying don’t do it at all. I’m saying until the county is in better standing to cut back.”
Simmons also complained about the amount of time it took an ambulance to arrive at a wreck in the Progress community recently. Simmons said sheriff’s deputy Brian Mullins arrived promptly but that it took over an hour for an ambulance to get there.
Sheriff James Brumfield checked the records and confirmed it took approximately one hour for the ambulance to arrive.