Supervisors-Tax Increase

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Supervisors face tax increase to fund roadwork

By Billy Davis
Following a surprise announcement Monday, Panola County supervisors are considering a one-mill raise in order to borrow money for summer paving.

A revolving loan used to fund road projects has reached its limit, forcing the need for a tax raise, County Administrator David Chandler told the board at its First District meeting.

The county administrator had been asked in past weeks to return with a figure that would allow the road department to reseal and asphalt county roads this summer. Chandler did so Monday and told a reporter after the meeting that supervisors were unaware that he would advise them about raising the millage.

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“It may be less than a mill, but you might as well count on a mill,” the county administrator advised the board.

Panola County’s current millage includes 2.58 mills that supervisors have depended on to finance the seasonal roadwork.

“So we can’t do anything without raising taxes?” Supervisor Gary Thompson asked Chandler.

“We’re borrowing pretty much every year and it’s caught up with us – payments on top of payments,” Chandler replied. “We’ve stretched the three mills to the max.”

Jolted by the news of a tax raise, supervisors agreed Monday to postpone a decision until they meet June 2. According to Chandler, however, the board’s options are limited to adding the millage or postponing the summer roadwork.  

“If we don’t do something, we’re going to lose what we have,” Supervisor James Birge told his colleagues.

After busting an $800,000 budget last summer, the five-man board, which includes two new supervisors, decided in early spring to reseal paved county roads, which is less costly than paving gravel roads. The board has three options:

•Reseal 10 miles of road in each district, and asphalt three-quarter miles of road, at a cost of $800,000

•Reseal 10 miles in each district at a cost of $700,000

•Reseal 15 miles in each district at a cost of $992,000

Reached after Monday’s meeting, Chandler explained that Panola County government is paying on three notes with the tax monies provided by the 2.58 mills. Each note is a five-year note, he said, and each is due to be paid off in one year, two years and three years respectively.

The 2.58 mills provides about $477,000, but the three notes together total about $550,000, Chandler said.

Regarding the three options, county road manager Lygunnah Bean suggested Monday that supervisors drop the smallest figure, the $700,000, and choose between the other two choices.  

“That’s where we need to land, David,” he told Chandler.

With summer approaching, June 2 date must be a “drop-dead date” for an agreed-to figure, Bean told the board.