Voting precincts top topic of meeting
An $500 invoice from one of the voting precincts in Marshall County for a single use brought up a discussion of a reasonable price from circuit clerk Monet Autry.
District 4 supervisor George Zinn III asked if the county should set a minimum or maximum price it will pay to use a facility for a voting precinct.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas said the numbers the county pays for the use of facilities seems to have been piecemeal. Some churches, for example, charge only $200 while another church billed the county $500.
“What will happen is everybody else will cost more,” Zinn said.
“This is the problem,” Autry said. “They call other churches to see what they are charging.” “They turned it (the request) in,” Thomas said.
“You can move a voting precinct,” said county administrator Larry Hall. “They just sent an invoice,” Autry said. District 3 supervisor Keith Taylor suggested the county pay the same across the board for using a facility.
“Two hundred fifty across the board and if they can’t do it, then find a new facility,” Taylor said.
The county pays the rate each time the facility is used, and that could run into big money if the $500 a day rate is charged, Taylor said.
“Don’t you think people will say, we want $500, too?” he asked.
The board also passed a motion to not pay for electricity at a voting precinct.
“It is $250 per use,” Taylor said.
Four churches were involved, Autry said.
“If they were told what they were going to get, why were they calling around to other churches to see what they were charging?” District 1 supervisor Charles Terry asked.
Autry said one precinct was being paid $200 per use and another was paid $125.
Taylor suggested the county pay the $500 invoice then have the board attorney write letters telling all facilities the county will pay $250 per day of use across the board.
Some precincts are held in county-owned facilities, such as community centers, where no pay is required.
County consultant Gary Anderson reported to the board of supervisors on some legislative activities in the 2021 session.
He said the legislature is looking at how to recruit and retain skilled labor in the state.
HB 1136 focuses on the Mississippi Talent Recruitment Act that would allow a tax rebate for people planning to live in Mississippi for up to five years.
District 8 Rep. Trey Lamar, of Lafayette/Tate counties, is committee chair of Ways and Means.
Anderson said the Mississippi Development Authority will administer the project that is designed to attract people to live in Mississippi, especially skilled workers.
Anderson said several entities have asked Lamar to make changes in taxation of agricultural lands.
District 5 supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett said the appraisal methods were drawn up in the 1940s for agricultural land.
“I think Lamar is trying not to raise taxes,” Anderson said. “A lot of people are coming to him.”
Bennett said the old method was based on erosion and soil testing to determine the tax.
But farmland has changed, he said, due to erosion of topsoil.
“Now it is nothing but a sand bed,” Bennett said. “That soil was set in the 1940s and has not been reassessed.”
Anderson said that HB 1137 bears watching. Lamar’s name is on the bill, he said. That bill amends Section 2735-50 of the Mississippi Code and sets the criteria for determining the true value of agricultural lands.
Anderson said he expects to talk with Lamar to get a “better feel” for the bill.
Privatization of some of Mississippi’s state parks is also under consideration in SB 2486, authored by Sen. Neil Whaley. The bill would overhaul how the 25 state parks operate in order to address the cost of maintaining them.
Some provisions would be put up for lease by a private operator – including Wall Doxey, J.P. Coleman , Tishomingo and Trace. Some parks, like Tombigbee State Park in Lee County, would be turned over to counties or municipalities.
Some parks could be reclassified as a wildlife management area or a fisheries lake under the proposed bill.
Anderson suggested that federal dollars to improve infrastructure in rapidly growing Marshall County could be sought through Mississippi’s delegation to Washington, D.C. — Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker. He recommended getting a date to visit the congressmen in Washington and or inviting them to visit the county when they are home in their districts.
He said most of the infrastructure support for the county comes from the Mississippi Legislature but federal legislation could also provide additional support.
He said DeSoto County has been successful in garnering federal dollars for infrastructure by visiting congressmen in their D.C. Offices.
He said the projects in Marshall County could bolster the entire state.
The board passed a motion to authorize Anderson to work to get the delegation to visit the county to discuss infrastructure needs. Justin Hall, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, would also assist in the effort.