Rupert Howell editorial 8/12/2014

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Loss of GE, power plant tax revenue brings budget angst 

Watching local government agencies go through the budget process is interesting to say the least. One might even say it’s educational

Supervisors have held extra meetings for the past three weeks, the third one being tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 13) to whittle down county expenditures so that taxes won’t have to be raised.

But that might not happen.

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School millage will probably go to the maximum and maybe more if the 55 mill limit does not bring in what was budgeted last year.

Health insurance for county employees will increase approximately $250,000. Supervisors have no, or little, control over either of these. 

Also, don’t forget the local power plant is no longer taxable property for county and school purposes and a $2 million donation by South Mississippi Electric Power Association to help ease withdrawal pains, will not be coming the county or school’s way this tax year.

And GE Aviation has reached and surpassed the $100 million threshold that allows a company to pay about one-third the amount of taxes in lieu of the assessed amount.

In my mind, something is not quite right when one of the world’s most profitable corporations pays a minimal amount of school tax in the nation’s poorest state.

While some departments and offices within Panola County’s domain are willing to tighten belts, others are asking for more.

Fire departments want trucks, turnout gear and equipment, employees want raises, citizens want improved roads, plus more and better services.

Last year’s budget included a tax increase as well as a small increase for salaries, something several supervisors say is not going to happen this budget year if they can help it.

In the meantime, a budget hearing will be held next month for those interested. My bet is that few citizens will show up. We usually hold our complaints until time to pay taxes and then unload on the deputy collection clerks like it’s their fault.

Oh, did I mention that this tax season is the last one before election year?

That will make it even more interesting.