Supervisors found useful information at conference

Published 12:06 am Sunday, June 24, 2012

Last week supervisors Calvin Butler, Angela Hutchins, President Darryl Grennell and I along with Board Attorney Scott Slover, County Administrator Joe Murray, Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne, and Road Manager Robbie Dollar had a chance to attend the 83rd Mississippi Association of Supervisors annual meeting.

This being my first annual meeting I was not sure what to expect and hoped it would be worth the cost and time to attend. After attending I can say the meeting was extremely well designed to provide us with tremendous knowledge and new resources to help us better serve you, the Adams County taxpayers.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves spoke to the group about issues at the state level. One topic of great concern for many supervisors across the state and certainly in Adams County was the absence of funding in the Local Special Bridge Program.

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In Adams County, we rely heavily on these funds for the many bridges on rural roads we must maintain. Later in the week State Aid Engineer Cary Webb stated we may receive some of this funding through a special session. Adams County supervisors are hopeful this happens as we have several bridges in desperate need of repair. Reeves also discussed education reform and the continued steps that need to be taken.

Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann gave a great talk about new laws that have been enforced to reduce copper and metal theft. As part of the enforcement you are photographed when you sell scrap metals, and instead of being paid cash on the spot you are not given a check until three days later after the scrap has been cleared. This has already reduced theft by more than 50 percent statewide. We are currently working with Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee to create policies to prevent thieves from taking scrap across state lines.

Secretary Hosemann also discussed the process that will now take place if the voter identification process clears the justice department and becomes law in Mississippi. If passed, identification cards will be provided locally, likely through the circuit clerk office. This will be funded through the state and will place no additional financial obligations on local taxpayers. Finally, Secretary Hosemann provided each county with unexpected payments to help with elections; Adams County received $12,628.15.

The meeting had multiple educational sessions to attend. I attended one session titled “online strategies for county government.” It focused on how we can make our government more customer (taxpayer) friendly. Along with many other counties, we must continue to push ahead with new technology. We learned there is access now to programs that can help place county departments, such as tax collectors, online with minimal cost. It also addressed upcoming programs to expand broadband services like Internet to rural areas like many parts of Adams County. While some of these steps may take a few months and years to achieve, we must start finding these cost effective and modern ways to move Adams County forward!

Another session was on the impact of unfunded mandates on local government. I will dedicate a full article to how these state unfunded mandates can have negative impacts on local taxpayers. Other sessions included juvenile detention reform, media relations and regional jail discussions.

One of the most beneficial parts of the meeting for me was meeting vendors that supply service to counties. For example, we use many outside services, one service we currently contract out costs the county more than $40,000 a year. We met a vendor that performs the same service in other local counties for less than $25,000 a year. This alone will pay for the cost of this annual meeting for years to come. Other vendors showed new advances in erosion control, road management and more.

Robbie Dollar attended the road manager session and found, among many things, ways we can greatly increase our profits on selling used vehicles. Joe Murray attended the county administrators sessions and Scott Slover attended the board attorneys meetings. Afterward, Slover and Murray meet with MEMA officials to discuss securing funds for neglected county roads. We are optimistic this meeting will expedite the process and secure funding. Murray and Tommy O’Beirne also attended a session titled “Capital Improvements and Financing for County Government.”

Perhaps one of the highlights of the meeting was in a business session when the supervisors from across the state had to decide on the host city for the 2015 conference.

The pre-selected cities were Tunica, Jackson and Biloxi. After a representative from each host city gave their pitch to host the 2015 conference. President Darryl Grennell asked to give an impromptu request for Natchez-Adams County. After a superb, spur of the moment speech every supervisor in the state had the opportunity to vote on the best possible location.

While Natchez didn’t win, we did receive more votes than Tunica and Jackson and came in a respectable second to the Gulf Coast. Next year we will have the chance to bid on the 2016 annual meeting, and we will be prepared ahead of time.

Just imagine how great it would be to have a conference in Natchez, with nearly every state official and over 1,500 people.

What better way to show off our hometown in the year we turn 300 years old!


David Carter is the Adams County supervisor for District 2.