The meeting, also attended by state representatives and senators for the six counties, was one of several the association executives will hold with planning and development districts throughout the state as they prepare for the 2013 legislative session.
High on the priority list is funding for the Local System Bridge Program, which was underfunded by $20 million in 2012, said Prentiss County District 4 Supervisor Mike Huddleston, who chairs the MAS Legislative Committee. The 2013 request is $30 million.
MAS Director of Governmental Affairs Steve Gray said the Legislature will be asked to either hold a bond issue as the program has been funded in the past or include a budget appropriation for it.
“We may have to start thinking about different ways of funding LSBP,” Gray said. “Change is coming. We’ve looked at what Arkansas and Georgia have done and they’ve held referendums to fund their programs and are moving forward.”
MAS has worked on a number of other issues throughout the summer that are critical to county fiscal health, including:
• The rural fire truck program to help lower homeowner insurance rates.
• Obtaining the full amount due for homestead exemption reimbursement.
• Reimbursement from the Mississippi Department of Corrections for local confinement.
• New funding methods for the Beaver Control Assistance Program.
• Increasing the surcharge for 911 funding.
• Legislation to allow counties to accept or decline donation of roads or highways from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
• Local taxing authority for Section 42 housing.
• Assurance that any charter school legislation address adequate funding for counties and districts from which students transfer into charter schools.
• Cost of living salary adjustments for supervisors, which haven’t changed since 2004.
• Local cost of enforcement if immigration laws are enacted at the state level.
• Collecting taxes on mobile homes placed on rental property.
“We’ve held this session as a spring meeting in the past, but it was Mike’s idea to have it before the legislative session begins,” said MAS Executive Director Derrick Surrette. “It’s something we’ll continue to do to let you know what the Legislative Committee has been working to help our counties on state and regional issues and on local and private issues.”