Oktibbeha County will officially have no tax increases for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The board of supervisors unanimously approved the proposed budget at its budget hearing Tuesday. Millage rates will decrease slightly from 124.67 to 124.61 next fiscal year, which begins on October 1.
The value of a mill has grown due to growth in the county, District 5 Supervisor and Board President Joe Williams said. The value of one mill this year is $422,822, compared to last year’s $418,389.
“There will be an increase in the value of a mill, so we don’t have to change the value of the mill itself,” Williams said. “We just look forward to having this increase and not having to raise the millage rate.”
The overall projected property tax revenue for the 2021-2022 fiscal year is $52,070,019 with $43,405,097 proposed expenditures.
The county has been in continuous talks with Madison-based company Government Consultants over the past few months on how to fund capital improvements. Based on their recommendations, County Administrator Delois Farmers shifted 1 mill to finance larger projects. She removed half of a mill from both the general county fund and the countywide bridge fund and placed it into the 2017 road fund, bringing that fund to 4 mills.
“That is where that 1 mil has been put for capital projects,” Farmer said. “… That is where we are able to use those funds to build county roads or buildings or whatever it may be.”
This year’s general fund budget increased from $14,844,124 to $15,804,991 in order to fully fund all county departments. Because the value of a mill increased, more money was able to go toward this fund.
“This is where each department received the budget request sheet on June 1,” Farmer said. “They had to complete it and get it back to my department by July 1, which with the transition going on, with the staffing, there were some delays at getting them back, however, we were able to get everything in.”
All other funds that are not in the general fund amounted to $27,771,656 compared to last year’s $29,666,546.
The county decided to allot more funding to special entities and nonprofits this year. Oktibbeha County Humane Society is slated to receive $185,000 compared to $35,000 last year after the COVID-19 halted much of the organization’s state and federal aid. Starkville Public Library’s funding is also increasing from $210,000 to $250,000. The county also decided to allocate Sally K. Winters Family Services $5,000 for the first time.
The county did not notice Tuesday’s budget hearing within the proper time period, at least a week out. Rob Roberson said the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor approved the late notice because the office would rather the county submit its budget before the Sept. 15 deadline for local entities. The county will in turn receive written warning — but no other punishment — from the state auditor.
Farmer assumed the role of county administrator a little over two months ago and created the budget within that timespan. She said she looked to other counties and entities for help to ensure everything was executed properly.
“I had a lot of support (in creating the budget), and I asked the questions,” Farmer said. “I was informed that ‘Hey, this looks good.’”
District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard said he was pleased with the budget and is proud of the board for coming to an agreement.
“It takes what we did today, to come here and make sure the budget is correct,” Howard said.