Taxes likely headed up

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, August 28, 2012

NATCHEZ — If the Adams County Board of Supervisors approve its proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, taxpayers could see their taxes go up ever so slightly.

While the budget currently being considered by the supervisors kept the county millage for 2012-2013 at the same rate as the current year, the Natchez-Adams County School District’s requested millage increased by 1.56 mils, resulting in a total countywide millage of 114.27.

For a homeowner with property valued at $100,000, that would mean an increase of approximately $15 annually in their tax bills, County Administrator Joe Murray said.

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If that homeowner claims homestead exemption on the $100,000 property, that increase will be $4, he said.

Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board has, in the past, absorbed the cost of the school district’s millage increases, but he could not support doing so again.

“When you are faced with a catastrophic event, people don’t care about taxes, they want safety,” Grennell said. “They want to be able to access roads and everything else. If it takes increasing the millage one or two mills to put safeguards in place, then so be it.”

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said the board was able to include some new expenses like raises for employees in the proposed budget without increasing its own tax rate because the county was able to retire debt this year and effect some cost-cutting measures.

Murray said the budget included gaming receipts from the Magnolia Bluffs Casino, which is slated to open in December, but that the numbers he used were very conservative because no one knows for sure how much money the casino will generate.

The budget also had to account for the fact that the county lost approximately $1.2 million in utility assessments, Murray said.

In other news:

• The board met with Sheriff Chuck Mayfield about having the sheriff’s office take over the operations of the county juvenile justice detention center.

The sheriff said no one has formally asked him to take it over, but he would if that was the wish of the board. Board Attorney Scott Slover said that the sheriff’s office’s takeover of the facility would ultimately have to come at the order of the Adams County youth court.

Mayfield also expressed concern that the youth facility should have a separate budget from the sheriff’s office.

“I want assurance from the board that it is going to be funded directly,” Mayfield said. “I don’t want to take it over and get the budget slashed.”

The supervisors assured Mayfield the center would have a separate budget.

• The board instructed Lazarus to set up a meeting with the Natchez Board of Aldermen to discuss the city-county fire protection plan.

“I feel like we are going to man the firehouses in the county eventually, that is our goal, and I feel like we need to sit down like grownups and let them know that is our plan,” Lazarus said.

• The board gave Slover permission to meet with the Natchez city attorney to see if the city and county can solicit proposals for garbage pickup together.

“The proposal process would have options showing what it would cost individually and together,” Slover said.

• The supervisors met with representatives of the Adams County Soil and Water Conservation District to discuss the services and funding of the district.