While their city counterparts are struggling to find money for pay raises and bailout struggling departments, Oktibbeha County supervisors approved an across-the-board, 3 percent cost-of-living adjustment for its employees Monday without increasing the county’s operational tax levy.
Supervisors set the county’s combined millage rate, which includes levies for governmental operations and the Oktibbeha County School District, at 111.88 mills, a slight increase due to a .91-mill hike OCSD Conservator Margie Pulley approved this summer.
The additional school district funds are expected to help renovate two OCSD campuses in preparation for 2015’s state-mandated consolidation with Starkville School District.
The county will operate on combined projected revenues of $34.57 million, of which ad valorem taxes are forecast to provide almost $20 million.
Compared to FY 2013-2014’s budget, the 28.65 mills levied for general county expenses remains flat, while other levies that constitute the sum of the county’s tax rate — specifically those for East Mississippi Community College support and enlargement; the county volunteer fire services and bridge funds; and two OCH Regional Medical Center bonds — remain even with their previous pledges, while the county road department (up .17 mills), another OCH fund (down .03 mills) and school notes (down .03 mills) were readjusted.
Reassessment brought the value of 1 county mill up from $307,380 to $319,481, while school district mills also gained in value, jumping from $62,639.
Increased revenues are expected to help the county add an additional road maintenance team and district to its work schedule and help hire new Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department personnel.
At least two new sheriff’s department hires are expected, while Road Manager Victor Collins could add two new workers and a variety of equipment for the proposed maintenance area.
Supervisors approved the budget after an almost five-minute presentation by County Administrator Emily Garrard. The document represents the first budget process not guided by former Administrator Don Posey in almost 20 years.
A public hearing on the budget yielded no comments from residents, and supervisors had few questions about the document.
“Things like working through budgets don’t make headlines, but I’m proud of what we have produced as a county,” District 1 Supervisor and Board Vice President John Montgomery said after the meeting. “It seems like everyone’s expenses are going up these days, but we managed to stay flat and still give our employees the tools they need to get their jobs done. That’s a great thing.”
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch