Thursday, September 8, 2005

County budget hearing Monday
• No new taxes

Staff Writer

The Marshall County Board of Supervisors has proposed a fiscal year 2005-06 budget of about $21 million, according to Chuck Thomas, chancery clerk. The budget will not require an increase in the millage rate over last year.

Thomas said the millage rate will be just under 119 mills, made possible by increased projected tax revenues. The $21 million budget is expected to use about 95 percent of the anticipated revenue with the county holding out 5 percent of projected revenues for any unforeseen shortfall or unanticipated expenses, particularly fuel.

Thomas said the buffer will help “because we are looking at a crisis now with fuel alone.”

He said growth in the county this year came to about 4 percent which allowed for the increases without raising the millage rate.

The main increase this year is seen in the Sheriff’s Department budget which has not gotten a budget increase in several years.

“This will be the first increase we’ve had in four budget years,” Sheriff Kenny Dickerson said.

The department will use the money to replace several patrol cars that have heavy mileage on them, hire one or two more officers, purchase radios and other communications equipment and staff a new sheriff department substation in the Byhalia/Barton area, he said.

“The increase will just keep up with inflation,” he said. “When you don’t increase the budget a little along, you’ve got to play catch up. Fuel, autos and safety equipment alone is up from 15 to 25 percent.”

The sheriff’s budget also pays for three school resource officers and their vehicles and equipment which Dickerson said takes up a third of the increase.

His department and the jail generates from $150,000 to $200,000 in “turnkey” revenue from fees collected at the jail and from serving papers. That money goes into the general fund, he said. Considering these monies generated by the jail operation and fees going back into the general fund, Dickerson said his department increase was not as large as it looks.

The Election Commission’s budget is up $39,000 in the new budget to purchase 20 new voting machines the state has recommended to meet the requirements of the “Help America Vote Act.”

Some department budget requests were cut, Thomas said, in order to keep from adding millage.

“The board had to make some hard decisions in denying some department requests,” he said.

Some monies were increased for upgrades in the county’s computer system that handles all department data statewide, including the circuit and chancery courts, county payroll, registration tags at the tax office, sheriff’s department case management data, and E-911 data.

A public hearing to present the proposed budget is set for 10 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in the board room , 103B Market Street. A limited question and answer session will follow the presentation.

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