Public hearing on Adams County budget today

Published 12:03 am Monday, September 8, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing today about the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, which includes an almost certain tax increase.

The hearing will be 5:30 p.m. in the board room on the first floor of the supervisors’ offices at 314 State St.

The county’s proposed budget includes a projected total revenue of $23,846,086, up from the current year’s budget of $23,394,519.

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The proposed tax increase comes from a funding increase request from the Natchez-Adams School District, which Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the board cannot legally turn down.

In the past, the board has lowered the millage rates the county has sought in a move to absorb the school district’s increases, but Grennell said he does not foresee the board doing so this year.

“It really puts the county in a bad position when we have to decrease our millage to accommodate the school district,” he said. “We have to cut back on county services, and it affects our end-of – year cash balances. We are not going to compromise county services.”

The county’s bond rating has been downgraded in the past because the county ledgers did not have high enough cash balances at the end of the fiscal year.

The increase from the school district is 2.24 mills. County Administrator Joe Murray said for a home valued at $100,000 with homestead exemption, the total increase would be $22. For the same home without homestead exemption, the increase would be $33.75.

Murray said the county’s budget does not include any major increases for departments, though it does add approximately $20,000 for emergency room visits for inmates.

Previously, the cost of emergency room visits for inmates was absorbed by the county-owned Natchez Regional Medical Center, but the hospital is expected to be sold Oct. 1, the first day of the fiscal year.

The county is also adding an additional $32,401 into the budget for fire protection.

The inter local agreement the county government has with the City of Natchez for fire protection includes caveats about adjustments to keep up with the consumer price index and increasing payments to the city if call volume outside the city limits stays above a certain point. Murray said both of those issues are included in the increase.

The increase in total proposed revenues comes from an increase in overall property valuation around the county, Murray said.

The final decision about the budget and tax levies will be made 11 a.m. Sept. 15.