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Supervisors say no tax increase in budget

By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Aug. 30, 2001
Lauderdale County supervisors say they will avoid a property tax increase by trimming next year's proposed county budget and reducing the size of county employee pay raises.
County workers originally were to receive a 3 percent raise; the latest county budget proposal would give them a 2 percent raise. Supervisors also cut thousands of dollars in funding requests from county departments.
Florey, other supervisors and county officials met for two hours Wednesday to continue work on the county's $29.7 million budget for the 2001-2002 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.
Supervisors scheduled a public hearing on the proposed budget for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. They could give final approval to the county budget at their regular 9 a.m. meeting on Sept. 7.
Travel funds reduced
On Wednesday, supervisors went through the latest budget proposal line-by-line. One of the areas trimmed was supervisors' travel expenses: $3,500 was cut from the original $11,200 request.
Supervisors Ray Boswell of District 5 and Craig Hitt of District 3 were both adamant about cutting travel expenses. Boswell complained in early July that the county was spending too much on employee travel.
Boswell said he believes supervisors could cut more money from the travel funds.
Sheriff's money cut
Supervisors also trimmed money from the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department.
The Sheriff's Department originally requested $200,000 for the purchase of new vehicles. Supervisors, though, decided to give the department $80,000 next year the same amount it received for the current fiscal year.
Hitt, though, told supervisors that the department needs more than $80,000 to replace five patrol cars with excessive mileage.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie did not attend the supervisors' meeting Wednesday and could not be reached for comment this morning.
No new taxes
In the end, all four supervisors who attended the Wednesday meeting said they were pleased they won't have to raise taxes something that may not happen in Meridian.
City leaders there are considering a 5 percent property tax increase to help fund their budget for the next fiscal year. Meridian's proposed budget would not include raises for city workers.
If Lauderdale County supervisors approve their latest budget proposal, the only way people would pay more taxes is if the county's mandated property reappraisal increases the values of residential homes and businesses.
Hitt said that supervisors have worked hard to adjust next year's budget so they won't raise taxes. Boswell said he believes supervisors should always trim proposed county budgets.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or E-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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