County approves budget, gives employees raise

Published 1:03 am Saturday, September 16, 2017

NATCHEZ — After opening and subsequently closing a public hearing Friday, the Adams County Board of Supervisors Friday approved a $27.7 million revenue budget, which will force the county to spend approximately $1 million of its reserve funds.

In voting for the budget, the county approved 5-percent pay raises for county employees. Raises are not for county officials, employees paid by grants and some independent departments including the chancery court clerk’s office and tax collector’s office.

The raises, which do include sheriff’s office deputies, amount to a $350,000 increase in expenses for the salaries and benefits. The raises are being accomplished without a millage increase.

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No residents showed up at the public hearing.

Revenues are approximately $1.7 million higher than last year’s budget, which ends on Sept. 30.

Of the increase in revenue, approximately $631,758 is from ad valorem taxes as assessments increased and several new houses were placed on the tax rolls — including a multi-million dollar house in the northern part of the county — for this year’s tax assessment.

Some notable revenue increases include $300,000 fee in lieu of ad valorem taxes for tissue manufacturer Von Drehle, a $470,000 E911 contribution from the city and county, $120,000 Delta Energy lease money and $74,000 for emergency watershed projects.

The county is receiving a $25,000 increase for each reimbursement for prisoners, road and bridge taxes and motor vehicle fuel tax.

The increased reimbursement is due to more juveniles being housed from other counties.

Adams County Administrator Joe Murray said the road and bridges and fuel taxes have trended upward in recent years.

“It could possibly drop… but I budget based on history,” Murray said. “I’ve tried to be conservative when estimating a revenue. I usually like to see a few years’ trend before I bump it up.”

Notable decreases in revenue include $130,000 in sheriff’s office grants, $40,000 for state forestry Title I and $20,000 in gaming revenues.

Expenditures are increasing by approximately $1.2 million to approximately $28.7 million.

The raises are part of the increase in expenses. Other notable expenditure increases include $590,000 in E911 dispatchers, $200,000 for the first payment on the railroad trestle loan and $250,000 in EWP projects.

The city is contributing approximately $292,000 toward dispatchers, which will help offset some of the E911 expense increases.

Murray said the difference between expenditures and revenues — $942,066 — would be made up for by the county’s cash balance.

Murray had previously said the county had approximately $4 million in cash balance.

The county formally set its millage rate at 59.65, which is the same as last year. The millage rate will accrue approximately $15.8 million in ad valorem tax revenue. Ad valorem tax revenue is approximately 57 percent of the county’s revenues.