Supervisors discuss funding limitations

By CHLOE RICKS,

Monday’s supervisor’s meeting in Vaiden revealed one central theme—the board needs more money in order to better serve the citizens of Carroll County.

The board voted on Monday to rehabilitate eight of the 11 county Emergency Water Protection (EWP) sites included in a $1.2 million grant awarded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  The EWP sites are mostly shoulders of roads that experience severe washing and erosion.

Monday’s supervisor’s meeting in Vaiden revealed one central theme—the board needs more money in order to better serve the citizens of Carroll County.

The board voted on Monday to rehabilitate eight of the 11 county Emergency Water Protection (EWP) sites included in a $1.2 million grant awarded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  The EWP sites are mostly shoulders of roads that experience severe washing and erosion.

However, stipulations of the grant is that the county will match 30 percent of the budget for the grant, which equals around $300,000 if all 11 sites were rehabilitated.  The county does not have that money in its budget.

Monday’s vote comes after Shane Correro of Willis Engineering encouraged the board at its previous meeting to come to a decision as soon as possible. The board prioritize some sites over others in order to not lose out on all of the grant money.

Although the supervisors have committed to fewer sites than were funded by the grant, there is still uncertainty as to where the matching money will come from.  Each board member will be permanently responsible for paying roughly 32 percent of the work done on the sites in their beats.

The board members will also have to pay for completed work upfront, before later being reimbursed by NRCS, although the agency will reimburse invoice by invoice.

The board’s lack of money came up again when Martina Mayfield of the Friends of the Vaiden Library group asked the board if it could help provide funds for replacing some of the library’s lights. Many of the lights are either hanging insecurely from the ceiling or not working.

Mayfield said Friends of the Vaiden library has sold fried pies and other goods to raise money to replace some of the lights, but there were still so many more that needed to be replaced. She had come to the board hoping that there was grant money available to assist the organization.

Board President and Beat 5 Supervisor Rickie Corley said that the board had not actually received the funds from the state that they had hoped for in funding the public libraries. The state has cut much of the money that it used to give to the state’s library commission, he said.

Beat 1 Supervisor Jim Neill added that the board is now having to “give more out of less.”

“There is not anyone here who does not appreciate the work that you all do,” Neill said. “Yet, the board’s money is constantly being stretched to its limits.”

Ultimately, the men voted to grant Friends of the Vaiden Library $1,500, an amount that is a few hundred dollars less than half of the total estimate for replacing the lights. Beat 4 Supervisor Claude Fluker had originally proposed to pay half of the bill, but the board didn’t know if it would be able to produce that amount.

The board also discussed the possibility of a town hall meeting to address the county’s problems. Attorney Kevin Horan said that the county could raise taxes or borrow money in order to attend to all of the county’s needs – fix all the county roads that are in poor condition and repair or replace all the bridges that have been closed by federal inspectors - but that should be left up to the county’s voters.  A town hall meeting would give taxpayers the opportunity to speak out for or against a tax increase, he said.

Neill said, “Our first and best choice is to get our Legislature to vote on funding for our rural counties, for example enacting a statewide fuel tax increase where everybody who uses our roads would pay their fair share. The fuel tax has not been changed since 1987.”

Neill said that 18.4 cents per gallon has the lowest fuel tax in all of its neighboring states and is the 46th lowest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.

At the state level, most funded programs are servicing the most populated areas, leaving the rural counties behind. Taxes are used to support basic needs in the county, like general road and bridge upkeep, Corley said. All five beats divide ad valorem taxes equally, but, when big things come up, like the state closing bridges, the county can’t possibly cover that, he said.

“We cannot raise taxes enough” to meet the shifting demands of the county, said Corley.

The board plans to sign the paperwork for the EWP sites in the coming weeks.

All board members will be at the MAS Annual Convention in Biloxi mid-month, and the board will reconvene On June 25 in Vaiden.     

 

 

Obituaries

Ruby Joyce “Jody” Baker, 72, of Carrollton died Monday, August 6, 2018, in Carroll County. ... READ MORE