Board adopts new county budget

By Russell Hood The Webster Progress-Times

WALTHALL — No one voiced any opposition against the new Webster County budget that the Board of Supervisors adopted last week.

Supervisors adopted the 2012-13 budget immediately after a 20-minutes public hearing Friday morning in the courtroom. Board attorney Buchanan Meek Jr. gave highlights of the budget, which goes into effect Oct.1, before a unanimous vote to adopt it without amendment.

The budget has total projected revenue of $7.22 million. Of that amount, $5.46 million will be financed through a total ad valorem tax levy of 113.71 mills. This is up half a mill from the current fiscal year.

General fund millage is up 3.15 mills while a school maintenance mill is down 0.77 mill. The assessed value of a general fund mill and school maintenance mill are both decreasing about $1,200, according to information presented.

“Most of these figures are just estimates as far as what expenditures will be, but we do know what a mill will bring,” Meek said.

The budget includes a $70,000 appropriation for a building by the county jail to house state inmates. Sheriff Tim Mitchell previously told supervisors that the state Corrections Department has told him to check back after the first of the year regarding the availability of state inmates.

The budget also includes funds for CodeRED notification service, a system that will deliver telephone messages to targeted areas or the entire county in the event of severe weather or for other notifications, such as boil-water alerts. The county has also budgeted $40,000 for a proposed tricounty economic development alliance.

Manus Litigation The only question or comment received was from Jim Brown of Eupora, who asked if contingency funds had been set aside for the Conway Manus litigation.

Manus has filed a federal lawsuit against the county and other defendants seeking an unspecified amount in damages stemming from his arrest and incarceration in the county jail two years ago.

Manus, according to his civil suit filed in June 2011, is now a quadriplegic receiving care at the Baldwyn Nursing Facility. He claimed in the suit that he was beaten during an altercation with law enforcement officers and after he was taken to jail. Various assault charges that had been brought against him have been remanded.

Meek told Brown no provisions had been made in the budget for the litigation but also said, “It would almost be impossible to budget for that … at this point. We have discussed it.”

A trial has been scheduled for March 13 “if it gets to that point,” Meek said, adding that any damages the county might have to pay would not affect the county until the following fiscal year rather than in the 2012-13 fiscal year. Paul Crowley (District 4) said, “We know it is a concern (but) we have no idea at this point what we should set aside.”

Friday morning’s board meeting ended with supervisors meeting in executive session about 50 minutes in the boardroom to discuss the Manus litigation. No official action was taken.