Budget hearing set for today

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 9, 1999

Local business owners and county employees both promise to air their views at this morning’s public hearing on Adams County’s proposed 1999-2000 budget.

&uot;The business people I’ve spoken with have one common response to the county budget, and that’s ‘no,’&uot; said Anne Stowers, CEO of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce.

The hearing will be at 9 a.m. today in the supervisors board room in the County Administrative Building at 314 State St.

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Many business leaders are opposed to the budget that would add 3.66 mills, or 9.4 percent, to the county tax burden, Stowers said.

The proposed budget would spend $4,379,977 more next year than it did in the last year. The smallest increase on the list of new expenses has drawn the sharpest debate.

Adams County residents and business leaders have questioned the soundness of a decision to vote pay raises for county employees when many industries in the county have had to lay off workers.

&uot;Local businesses have said that if their business is not doing well, they can’t give their employees a pay raise,&uot; Stowers said.

But more important, Stowers said, business leaders oppose any tax increase at all.

&uot;We can’t afford it,&uot; she said. &uot;The county has to learn to live within its means. We will see some economic benefit from the port project that will eventually bring in business, but the juvenile justice center will not make a dime for anyone.&uot;

Another voice on the proposed budget comes from the county employees for whom a pay raise hangs in the balance.

&uot;I’ve worked here 16 years and never complained, but I’m complaining now,&uot; said Rose Daniel, deputy clerk in the Adams County tax collector’s office. &uot;The cost of living goes up every day, and our salaries can’t be compared to IP and (Titan) Tire. Our pay scale is low. Why shouldn’t we get the raise? We’re taxpayers, too. We’re paying for that new juvenile justice building. They’re going to go up on the taxes.&uot;

County receiving clerk Eva Dunkley said she believes county employees have earned a pay raise. &uot;The few people who are against the raises should realize that the county employees are also taxpayers,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s been a while since we got a raise, but the cost of living continues to climb.&uot;