Supervisors share ideas during annual convention in Biloxi

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Some 400 supervisors from all 82 counties in Mississippi are meeting in Biloxi this week. They're attending the Mississippi Association of Supervisors annual convention.

As you might imagine, in these challenging economic times, budgetary concerns are among the key topics at the supervisors' conference. The convention is a chance to share innovative ideas and learn how statewide legislation might impact county finances.

"All counties are, in this lean economic time, facing budget shortfalls," said Lindsey Roberts Jr.

Roberts is a supervisor from Winona, Mississippi in Montgomery County.  He said the conference offers an opportunity to share ideas about improving efficiency.

"And with cuts on the state, the local level, plus on your national level, you have to use new and innovative ideas about helping the people," he said.

The president of the supervisors association comes from Sharkey County: Population 6,500.  But even the smallest of counties in Mississippi is facing financial hardship.

"We literally have to rob from Peter to pay Paul for things. But everything we do has to be watched very closely.  It affects county government in such an extreme way. Just the high price of gasoline going up. You're talking about ambulances, school buses, sheriff's cars. All of this, it really affects it," said Bill Newsom.

Jackson County's Manly Barton is the outgoing legislative committee chairman.  He's been responsible for tracking how bills from the state legislature might impact county finances.

Barton sees tremendous value in supervisors from all 82 counties gathering to share innovative ideas.

"Lessons learned is probably the most important thing. Different counties, we all have some of the same issues, and many times we find out how other counties have dealt with issues. And in a lot of these break out sessions, in particular, we're able to learn from each other, find out who contact people are," Barton said.

The supervisors' convention continues through Thursday in Biloxi. Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco was chosen to chair the group's legislative committee next year.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.