Thursday, September 18, 2008
Deveralls voice concerns about appraisals, taxes
By SUE WATSON
The board of supervisors trudged through a large agenda, Monday, some of which included money.
At a public hearing on the fiscal year 2008-09 budget, retirees Leon and Mildred Deverall of Mt. Pleasant expressed displeasure at the increasing financial pressures the public is facing - including the increase in ad valorem taxes on their home which was reappraised and increased in true value by $28,000 in August.
A countywide reappraisal of all property this year was mandated by the Mississippi Legislature.
“What I’ve got on my mind is tax, naturally,” said Leon Deverall.
He and his wife are in their 70s and have heart troubles, they said, and their incomes are limited to Social Security cost of living increases which they say have not covered the increased cost of living for the last four years.
“We have houses,” Leon Deverall began, speaking of his neighbors as well as himself, “and I can’t sell my house for the true value as appraised (by the tax assessor).”
The Deveralls had an independent appraisal that put their property value well below the true value established this year, he said.
“We’ve got to do something about taxes,” he said. “The value jumped about $28,000 and I got it down about $6,000. I’ve never been on Welfare, but if this keeps up we are going to be. Lots of people out there are going broke.”
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett was sympathetic but reminded the Deveralls that the board of supervisors plays no part in reappraisals by the tax assessor’s office.
“The tax assessor is elected and does the assessment as required by the state of Mississippi,” he said.
“If this thing keeps going higher and higher, the tax man is going to have to collect some way,” he said. “He is going to have to collect houses.”
The Deveralls spent $9,500 last year in home improvements, he said.
His property tax has been steadily rising and the Deveralls paid $119 more last year in property taxes than the year before that, he said.
Supervisor Keith Taylor told the Deveralls that the board of supervisors can’t approve an appeal of ad valorem taxes after they have set the mill rate. But supervisors decreased the mill rate by 10 (roughly 10 percent) this year, to help off-set some of the increased taxes citizens will pay, he said. The board lowered the mill rate from 118.95 to 108.95 for the 2008 tax year - the maximum a board by law can lower a mill rate in one year, he said.
Taylor said he does not think it is right that a property’s true value appraisal by the tax assessor's office is higher than what a person can sell their property for.
“Maybe we need to change some laws,” said Mildred Deverall.
County administrator Larry Hall inserted that the tax assessor was required to reappraise the property at replacement value, not at current market value.
“Larry hit the nail on the head,” Taylor said. “It is going to cost a lot more than the true value to replace a house.”
Mildred Deverall continued.
“For the last four years the Social Security people have not given enough to pay for the (increased) cost of living,” she said. “The last two year's raise did not meet living costs.”
Deverall said she thinks cuts in government costs should start with the President of the United States and continue downward through the salaries of all elected officials.
“I will tell y’all and I will tell Mr. Barbour (the governor) to his face that anybody who does not have common sense to raise the cigarette tax but raises the cost of hospital beds...We need to start at the top, the president, the vice-president, Congress and cut (their salaries) and give to the little man what you cut off from the high-paying people. I have respect for all forms of government but I don’t respect how they are running government.”
Deverall then thanked her supervisor, Eddie Dixon, for his advice “to look at the personal aspect” of skyrocketing costs of living and taxes.
“We are going to have people leave Marshall County just like they left Shelby County and if I can sell my house, I’m going to DeSoto County,” Mildred Deverall said.
Bennett reiterated that reducing the county mill rate had helped taxpayers some.
“If we had not pulled the millage down, everybody would pay higher taxes,” he said. “When you go to the polls, you can do something.”
Discussion ended, the board voted to adopt the 2008-09 budget totaling just over $21 million. The figure includes revenue derived from the county, the state of Mississippi and Federal dollars.
Other activities concerning money were taken up in executive session.
After the dust of executive sessions settled, the board of supervisors came out and approved an increase in the monthly rate for collection of household solid waste by Resourceful Environmental Solutions, The monthly rate will increase to customers by $1.40 a month - going from the current $10.10 a month to $11.50.
Supervisors then approved a request for proposals for ambulance service to the county with MedStat awarded the bid.
MedStat which also serves Tate County, offered to keep four ambulances in the county during the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and three ambulances at other times for a subsidy of $14,500 a month. One ambulance would be housed at the Byhalia Substation, one in Holly Springs’ station and one at Wyatt Fire Department that would serve the southern portion of the county as well as Tate County. Four ambulances full-time would be available for $28,750 monthly.
Alliance Healthcare System proposed to offer two ambulances around the clock for a monthly subsidy of $15,500 and a three-year contract. Alternatively, Alliance proposed to operate three ambulances for $20,500 monthly or four ambulances for $25,500 a month, both on three year contracts.
Transcare Ambulance Service offered to operate two ambulances around the clock for a subsidy of $15,000 a month or three ambulances for $18,000 a month.
Six bids were opened for the replacement of two bridges below Waterford on Old Highway 7 South near Highway 310. Winning the contract award - for work estimated by state engineers to cost $747,823 - was Union Construction Company of Etta at a bid price of $556,156. Other bids were Buddy Ayers Construction, Corinth, at $983,108; Talbert Construction, Nesbit, at $564,668; Prairie Construction, Tupelo, at $667,145; Rutledge Construction, Tupelo, at $883,351; and T.L. Wallace Construction, Columbus, at $876,335. The bridge replacements are paid for by the State Aid Road and Bridge Program.
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