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Adams County adopts 2021 FY budget with 2.03 mil tax increase for schools

NATCHEZ —Adams County residents will be paying a 2.03 mil increase in taxes to fund the Adams County School District’s budget that includes building a new high school after the Adams County Board of Supervisors adopted the county’s 2020-2021 budget in a public hearing on Tuesday.

The fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The millage rate set to fund 47.63% or $15,827,518 of the county’s total budget revenue of $33,225,474, is proposed to be financed through a total ad valorem tax levy of 118.81 mils, which is 2.03 mils more than last year’s millage rate of 115.78 mils, county officials said.

One mil is equal to $1 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

“Our millage rate for the county will remain the same,” Murray said. “This increase in the tax levy of 2.03 mils is necessary only because of the increase funding request of the Natchez Adams County School District, which by law Adams County must fund and may not decrease in amount,” said Joe Murray, Adams County Administrator in a PowerPoint presentation during Tuesday’s public hearing on the budget. “This increase means that you will pay more in ad valorem taxes on your home, automobile tag, utilities, business fixtures and equipment and rental real property.”

The total cost of the Natchez Adams School District building project is $25 million, including remodeling the current high school to become a middle school facility at an estimated cost of $9 million of the total cost.

The project will be financed through a combination of trust certificates and the 2.03 millage increase, school officials have said.

The Adams County budget includes the school board’s $14,237,156, budget request, including $445,469 that is for renovating the old high school.

Other notable changes in this year’s budget, according to Murray’s presentation, include an approximate $3 million budget revenue increase from $29,330,779 in the fiscal year ending in 2020 to $33,225,474 in budget revenue in the fiscal year ending 2021.

“We had $1.3 million increase in federal grants for EWPs (Emergency Watershed Protection) and that is a good portion of that $3 million,” Murray said. “We also … had to transfer in the match portion of the EWP which is $1.1 million and that is what basically shows the increase.”

Budgeted expenditures for the fiscal year ending 2020 were $29,394,081 and have increased by $3,754,384 to $33,148,465 for fiscal year ending 2021.

Some notable expenditure increases outlined by Murray include $21,500 for the coroner’s office, $628,057 for the road and bridge debt, $85,000 for the sheriff’s office combined funds and $1,986,464 for EWP projects.

Some major expenditure decreases include $40,663 in information technology, $54,282 in elections, $254,154 in negotiable capital improvement projects.

No citizens spoke during Tuesday’s budget hearing and supervisors voted unanimously to adopt the budget.

In other matters during Tuesday’s special-called budget hearing, supervisors:

* Unanimously agreed to allow employees to attend training in Ridgeland for MDOT grant projects.

* Unanimously agreed to certify recapitulation of Assessment of Real and Person Property as recommended by Adams County Chancery Clerk Brandi Lewis.

* Unanimously agreed not to participate in a Social Security tax deferral program that would have required repayment by employees at the end of December.

* Unanimously appointed Johnny Waycaster of Waycaster & Associates Architects as the project manager for a re-roofing project on a county building on Market Street.

* Unanimously agreed to recess until Monday’s regular meeting.

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