D'head, county approve ’14 budgets
By Dwayne Bremer
Sep 17, 2013, 19:05
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors and the Diamondhead City Council last week both approved their respective budgets for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
In Diamondhead, taxpayers will see a slight decrease in millage and a tighter budget for the upcoming year, Mayor Tommy Schafer said Tuesday.
The city council voted 5-0 on Sunday to approve its budget, which includes 34 mils in ad valorem taxes.
Last year, the city levied 34.25 mils.
"We did not charge a quarter of a mil for fire protection because the county is already collecting millage for that," Schafer said. "We felt like we would be okay holding the millage where it was at."
Schafer said although the city will levy virtually the same millage, it will collect about $100,000 less this year because the value of a mil in the city decreased by about $3,000 a mil last year.
"We have been able to control our administrative costs and other spending," Schafer said. "We have also gotten tremendous performance from our inter-local agreements. Our employees are doing a fine job, too."
Schafer said his goal is to continue to be frugal and look for ways to reduce unnecessary spending.
"We are looking at all avenues to get better," he said.
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors also passed its budget last week with no tax increases, but this year's budget will include cuts and employee layoffs.
The sheriff's office will be see the biggest changes, taking a $450,000 cut.
Sheriff Ricky Adam said last week that the budget cuts will force him to lay off four to six employees, not fill at least two open positions, and cut services such as patrols on the Jourdan River.
The tax assessor/collector's office and chancery and circuit clerks' offices will also see a six percent cut, but no full-time employees are expected to be laid off.
Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve the budget with the cuts and lay-offs.
District One supervisor David Yarborough and District Five Supervisor Tony Wayne Lader cast the two "no votes."
Likewise, Supervisors voted 3-2 Monday to pass a 25 percent increase in garbage collection.
Ladner and District Two Supervisor Kenny Hoda voted against the increase.
Starting next month, county residents garbage collection bills will increase from $8 per month to $10 per month.
The increase was necessary because the county was apparently losing money on garbage collection, officials said.
The county pays into the Hancock County Solid Waste Authority for garbage collection along with Bay St. Louis and Waveland.
Ladner suggested shifting employees which were moved to the authority's payroll last year back to the county's payroll so the county could use grant funds to pay them.
That move, Ladner said, would have allowed supervisors not to raise the garbage collection fees.
The county still have about $600,000 in a grant fund which was earmarked for operating expenses, Ladner said.
The county's lay-offs are expect to go into effect on Oct. 1.
Supervisors have said they will revisit the budget in February and try to bring back the laid-off employees.