Whereas there’s no overall increase in Monroe County’s countywide levies for the upcoming fiscal year, some local taxpayers may face slight increases or decreases on their property taxes depending where they live. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
“Overall, there’s no increase,” said Monroe County Chancery Clerk Ronnie Boozer. “The countywide levy inside the cities for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th districts is 61.26 mills. Last year, it was 61.43 mills. The only one that’s different is the 4th district, which is 61.46 for the ’22 year. It’s .2 mills higher because of the Prairie Industrial Park.”
He added a levy that’s going away this year is the Monroe County jail refunding bonds.
“We had a mill on last year, but we won’t have that,” Boozer said. “We usually pay around $720,000 a year debt on that. All the debt we owe on it for this coming year is about $328,000, and we have enough in our fund to pay that off without having to levy any more money this upcoming year for it.
“As far as countywide levies are concerned, we put about .83 of a mill into the general fund primarily because the general fund has to keep up with half of the 911 budget. That will help defray some of that cost. The remaining part of the one mill where we closed the jail fund, the remaining .17 will be put in the county volunteer fire department fund.”
He said people living outside of municipalities in districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will pay the additional .17 mills.
“It’s no more than what they were already paying, though, because they were paying the full amount under the jail levy. Those in the cities in the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will actually see a decrease of .17 because that levy doesn’t apply to them. It only applies to the rural people,” Boozer said.
He added the Monroe County School District’s maintenance fund decreased from 40.73 to 40.7. The school district’s debt service also decreased from .87 to .84.
“Nettleton [School District] saw an increase. Nettleton maintenance went from 46.53 to 50.66. On the notes, Lee County and Monroe County finance those jointly and retire the debt jointly. The notes for Nettleton school was 1.85. It increased to 2.87,” Boozer said.
He added a shortfall request was submitted from the Nettleton School District, which created a .3 mill tax levy, which had to be separated due to the cap of not exceeding three mills for limited notes.
The Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget for Monroe County totals $44,156,711, which is an increase from last year’s budget total of $35,394,857. Both figures include published budgets, but also included is the Itawamba Community College levy, which is pass through money totaling approximately $2 million, and approximately $161,000 for Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District.
“Most of your departmental budgets pretty well remained the same. Some were up a little. Some were down a little. The big item for the increase was the American Rescue Plan money we got. We got half of that this year but we’re to get the other half this year. We budgeted the entirety of it, which is $6.8 million total,” Boozer said, adding departments did good jobs staying within their budgets.
He isn’t confident the county will spend all of its American Rescue Plan funds during the next fiscal year.
Boozer added revenues in the county’s general fund increased by approximately $500,000.
As funding for 911 continues to decrease because of the increasing number of land lines, which yield a surcharge for the service, are being disconnected by customers.
“We’ve encouraged the board [of supervisors] every year to talk to their association about these fees we get. They’re going to need to be increased or something. They run around $350,000 to $375,000, and the 911 budget is $711,000 this year. This is the third year we’ve had to transfer money from the general fund to the 911 budget,” Boozer said.
He said the Monroe County Airport has been using aviation fuel funds to help with improvements the past three years.
“Last year, we had about $700,000 of work in process money from federal money to do the projects. We did a ramp expansion, a parallel taxiway and an apron expansion,” Boozer said. “This year, we’ll have half of that budget in AIP (Airport Improvement Program funds), and [airport manager Wes Kirkpatrick] is looking at doing lighting for the runways.”
The county solid waste department is looking to purchase a new scraper, a new tractor and weights for the tractor for the landfill’s rubbish site, which totals approximately $410,000. The county will lease-purchase the equipment, which will cost approximately $89,000 per year for the next five years.
The solid waste department will also purchase a front-load garbage truck and an automated truck.
The Monroe County road fund, which totals $8.3 million, is basically the same amount as last year. In previous years, supervisors approved to not exempt road and bridge tax from 10-year industrial tax exemptions, which has paid off for the county’s road department.
The upcoming fiscal year budget will provide for approximately $700,000 worth of air packs for volunteer fire departments throughout the county. The air packs will also be provided through a lease-purchase.
A small local law enforcement budget, which was opened years ago but never utilized, will be used this year. Boozer said it was opened 25 years ago for the purchase of vests.
Another item paid off was for a building in Wren used by United Furniture Industries in that the property was in the county’s name and was paid back through rental payments from the company.
For the upcoming fiscal year, there is also money budgeted through a community development block grant for a Quincy Water Association expansion alongside West Road.