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Conference beneficial for supervisors

Earlier this month, the Adams County Board of Supervisors attended the Mississippi Association of Supervisors Mid-Winter Conference in Jackson. It was a valuable conference with many things brought back home.

It started on Tuesday afternoon with a session to discuss legislative agendas that affect counties. We then went to the state capitol to discuss these issues with our legislatures. Twelve proposals were submitted to legislature from MAS, and some of the proposals that may have a greater impact on Adams County were:

- A request for full statutory reimbursement for all homestead exemption credits.

- A request for permanent funding for the local system bridge program. (The MAS was pushing for $30 million annually, currently $20 million is committed).

- A request for legislation to make the 2013 round of acquisitions of the rural fire truck acquisition assistance program.

- A request for counties to have the discretion to accept or decline portions of a road or highway issued to them by MDOT.

Other proposal included issues related to PERS, purchasing processes, road right-aways and communication surcharges.

While at the Capitol we meet with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves along with other senators and representatives. Our group spent much of the time with Sen. Kelvin Butler discussing these proposals and other legislation related to Adams County.

We received updates on the section 42 housing program and new regulations form MDEQ relating to storm water run-off. But, the most debated and controversial topic was charter school legislation.

Both the House and Senate Education Chairman spoke on the legislation, and then 10 or more supervisors voiced support and concerns over future changes to our educational systems. It was a lively debate that will hopefully bring positive change in education locally and statewide. The future of education does have some positive signs.

Last year was the first year in some time during which the state saw more A&B than D&F rated schools.

Charter schools exist in 41 states so despite strong opposition from many sectors, it is likely we will see it pass in Mississippi in the near future. Adams County is looking at developing a magnet school; personally I think it is a good alternative comparable to charter schools without unfunded mandates to taxpayers. (I will do an article entirely on school reform in the near future)

In another session Central Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall discussed potential changes to the state’s fuel tax and the need to upgrade the states road systems in some areas.

Robert Latham, executive director of MEMA, informed the MAS about upcoming changes and challenges they face. Since 2008 MEMA has seen a 38 percent cut in their general fund and a 59 percent cut in their disaster fund.

The state still owes approximately 21 million in matching funds as well. (Adams County is still due about $200 thousand in reimbursements from MEMA and FEMA). What this means is moving ahead local, county and state governments will have to bear more financial responsibility for future disasters.

To wrap the conference up Gov. Phil Bryant spoke to the groups about some concerns and issues facing the state. He expressed concerns over the state’s overall medical community, economic development and future generations.

Mississippi is one of the most medically underserved states in the nation, and we must find ways to recruit doctors and maintain the current ones we have. Although we are seeing some positive signs in economic development, we must still accept the fact that overall employment across the state has fallen every year since 2007.

Part of this was due to Mississippi losing an estimated 76,800 jobs during the recession of 2008. However, things appear to be changing slowly, and Mississippi is moving in a good direction and the future looks bright.

 

David Carter is the Adams County supervisor representing District 2.