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Adams County supervisors discuss budget in Friday meeting

NATCHEZ — Adams County Supervisors discussed the county’s budget and heard reports from department heads, including a request from Adams County Road Manager Robbie Dollar for more employees and raises, during a special-called meeting Friday.

“We are shorthanded,” Dollar told supervisors. “I’m asking for four employees.”

The county is in the midst of the budgeting process and will advertise next week for a Sept. 15 budget hearing. Supervisors said they do not plan to raise taxes to fund this year’s budget.

Dollar told supervisors that his department could probably make it through January without the new employees.

“If we could just wait until January, it would help us do a better job and get more done,” Dollar said before offering another request. “…I have 12 employees working in the road department out of 29 making less than $11.50 an hour. It is a lot of work out there for those guys. I don’t compare my department to any other department but I am going to ask for a raise for my employees. I don’t know if we will get it. I just wanted to let you know that we do have 12 making less than $11.50 an hour. It costs them the same for a loaf of bread that it costs everybody else.”

Adams County Administrator Joe Murray said hiring four employees at $11 an hour each with fringe benefits would cost a total of $156,348 per year.

During discussion of Dollar’s request, Adams County Board of Supervisors President Ricky Gray said he does not want to hire anyone during the uncertainty surrounding county finances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I agree that the road department needs some more employees but at this particular time, I think it is a good idea for us to revisit this because of the pandemic and we don’t know when we might have to shut down,” Gray said. “I don’t want to hire somebody and end up laying them off but I do think that they are underpaid, too.”

District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines said he believes the road department needs more workers and some of the workers deserve pay raises.

“If we move it to January because of the pandemic this is something that we do not need to drop the ball on,” Gaines said. “They are shorthanded and they work hard.”

Supervisors did not take any action on Dollar’s request and agreed to revisit the request in January.

In other matters during Friday’s special-called board of supervisors meeting, supervisors:

* Unanimously agreed to deny an objection to the tax roll assessment of equipment for Denbury Onshore LLC.

* Unanimously agreed to accept an objection to the tax roll assessment for Dish Network.

* Unanimously hired Angie King as the county’s next administrator at $80,000 per year to replace Murray who is retiring. King had been hired earlier in the month but Friday’s vote was a formality to get her added on to the county’s payroll, said Scott Slover, board attorney.

* Unanimously approved a counselor and social worker for the Adams County Sheriff’s office at $18.93 per hour pending completion of grant paperwork to pay for the position.

* Unanimously agreed to advertise for a professional grass cutting service to take on cutting grass on county-owned properties. Supervisors said they would review the bids to determine if hiring a professional service would be more feasible that paying county employees to do the work with owned county equipment and therefore freeing up county workers.

* Murray suggested supervisors review the county’s insurance to see if any cost savings could come from switching providers even though Murray said the county is happy with the current provider.

* Heard a request from Patten to pay medical expenses for an inmate Patten said is charged in a rape case but was released due to medical reasons and later assaulted someone. Patten said the man is dangerous and should remain in the jail despite medical costs. Supervisors agreed to request a speedy trial for the suspect.

* Went into executive session to discuss two personnel matters.

* Agreed to have Slover work with the Natchez City Attorney to negotiate hiring a lobbying firm for the city and the county.

* Agreed to appoint former Adams County Supervisor David Carter to fill a vacancy on the Port Authority pending approval of a legal review of his status as a recent county supervisor.

* Unanimously voted to declare a state of emergency in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura that passed through Adams County on Thursday.

The board’s next meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, since the regular Monday meeting date falls on the Labor Day holiday.