Itawamba County budget grows, has fewer changes

Itawamba County StockBy Adam Armour

Itawamba Times

The Itawamba County Board of Supervisors has approved a budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which includes a five percent tax increase for residents.

Last week, supervisors voted their approval of an ad valorem millage rate of 58.5 mills and a school millage rate of 60.9 mills. Both of these rates represented an increase from last year’s rates, which were 54.5 mills and 59.6 mills respectively.

The increase to the ad valorem rate, which affects taxes on homes, automobile tags, business fixtures, utilities and equipment, represents a three mill increase to the county’s general fund and a one mill increase to pay debt.

The county’s total millage for 2013-2014 is 126.55 mills.

Millage allotted to the county’s general fund covers the cost of general county operations, including employee salaries, road and bridge work and law enforcement. School millage covers the operating expenses of the county school district, as well as a small allotment of mills for Itawamba Community College and the adult education program.

The value of a county mill is currently set at $98,422. School mills are worth $114,627 each. The county’s assessed value this year is $128.5 million.

This year’s budget includes a three percent “cost of living” pay increase for county employees. This does not include elected officials, whose budgets are largely set using a state-controlled formula.

A quick comparison of this year’s budget to last reveals that little has changed, despite the tax increase. In fact, many departments received a decrease to their budgets from last year to the current year. In order to avoid a direct ad valorem tax increase during the past few years, officials borrowed money from the county’s “rainy day fund” to fill in budget gaps. But much like making do with what’s in the fridge rather than going shopping, there’s only so many times the county’s bills could be paid by dipping into the savings without adding more money to the pot.

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