Supervisors Hold Town Hall in Picayune
A crowd of approximately 65 people attended last night’s Pearl River County Board of Supervisors Town Hall meeting at Picayune’s Crosby Library.
Board President Sandy Kane Smith opened the meeting commenting on the board’s attempt to be transparent with the residents by having the town hall meetings and encouraging the audience to please feel free to ask any questions.
After Smith’s comments and welcome, Board Vice President Hudson Holliday presented a slide show giving insight to how the Pearl River County government receives revenue and how the county spends the money. The County’s total revenue for 2016-2017 is $27.9 million. Holliday explained how the money is generated and allocated across 56 county departments.
The largest part of money is spent on ‘getting and taking care of the bad guys’ referring to the 19 percent of money that goes toward the Sheriff’s Department and 18 percent spent on the county jail.
The presentation noted that there is 851 miles of roads maintained with local funds, 149 miles of roads maintained by the county with state aid , and 249 miles of roads maintained by the Mississippi Dept of Transportation in Pearl River County. The county’s budget for roads is $5.2 million dollars.
The board addressed questions concerning roads, taxes, the county hospital, economic development, and long range planning.
Hudson Holliday posed a question to those attendance pertaining to whether or not they would pay a 1 cent consumption tax on prepared foods with the money going to economic development. The overwhelming response from the audience was yes they would. Holliday stated that the state legislature would allow the county to institute such a consumption tax and it would generate $600,000.00. Holliday’s example was that he and the board are committed to forming a long term funded economic entity and he was giving an example of how the entity could be funded. Holliday stated the county has designated $150,000.00 in their budget and City of Poplarville has put up some money and he believes that Picayune will also do so.
A question was raised about the Pearl River County Hospital and Nursing Home in Poplarville in lieu of the current lawsuit being pursued against the former management company. The hospital stands to recover over $3 million dollars from approximately $4 million dollars that was embezzled.
Holliday and County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin jointly addressed the question explaining that the county does not oversee the hospital facility directly, but appoints a board to oversee the day to day management of the hospital. From the audience, two residents, Stacy Wilkes and Darryl Smith, both commented that the hospital provides excellent care and is staffed with experience physicians and caregivers and provides the area of Poplarville and the central and northern part of the county with great healthcare. Holliday said that he had suffered a heart attack years ago and if not for the presence of the hospital and its staff, he would have died.
Resident Clyde Dease commented that he “was glad to pay taxes because that means he is working versus the alternative of not being able to do so”. Dease posed a question about long term planning for the county and how is the board is approaching it?
County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin responded by telling Dease that “for the first time since I’ve been with the county, we have a group focused on and working on developing long term strategies in many areas including roads, infrastructure, buildings and economic development.”
Hudson Holliday added that the county engineer, Les Dungan, has conducted a detailed audit of the current condition of the county roads and each supervisor road every mile as well placed a grade on the roads from very poor to good in regards to the condition of the road. This data along with Dungan’s audit were used to produce a list of roads to be addressed in upcoming months and years in regards to paving and upgrades.
A question was asked about the tax exemption allowed for Shale Support Services. Adrain Lumpkin addressed the question that the Board followed the statutes and laws in allowing the exemption. Supervisor Donald Hart added comments that explained the board’s actions due the investment the company has made in jobs and payroll in the county as well as the potential to hire additional employees once the price of oil regains strength in what has been a depressed market the past 3 years. Supervisor Malcolm Perry added that Shale Support Services spent $30 million dollars and has a payroll near $20 million.
At the end of the meeting, the audience was reminded of the county wide Pick Up Pearl River County Litter initiative scheduled for Saturday April 22nd.