Jackson County set to adopt budget Monday

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - For many Jackson County residents, tax bills carry an especially unpleasant memory of last year's property tax hike. This year, they can expect a slight decrease in their tax bill. The Jackson County Board of Supervisors added a millage rate reduction into the 2010 budget. They plan to adopt the budget at Monday's meeting.

"So many businesses and individuals are hurting because of the economy, and it was a priority for many of us to lower it much more than we did," said District 3 Supervisor Mike Mangum.  "As it worked out, after weeks and weeks of going through the budget item by item, we were able to lower it 0.622 mills. A little over half a mill."

Mangum said this year's millage is the lowest it's been in 16 years. You won't see much change on your bill though. Officials estimate an $11 decrease for every $100,000 in assessed property value. Mangum said he and other board members had hoped for a bigger drop.

The decrease is possible because the value of a mill has increased over the past year.

"Building projects that were started last year and completed before this year will obviously be on the tax rolls this year," Mangum said. "Any industry that had a project that was started and finished and will be coming on, that's part of the increase as well."

The county may be growing, but Mangum said this year's budget isn't. The only major projects this year are funded through grants and loans. County dollars are funding smaller tasks, including a $1 million in improvements at the East Jackson County Services Complex.  Departmental expansions, roof improvements and air conditioner upgrades will be included in the project.

The county will also use $3 million to replace nine city bridges. Those include bridges over Coventry Road in Escatawpa, Old Spanish Trail and Robert Hiram Road in Gautier, Bay Ave. in Moss Point, Ocean Springs Road Culvert, Beach Boulevard and Hospital Road in Pascagoula, Cook/Vestry Road and Highway 63 in Wade.

$2.5 million will be put into major road improvements in unincorporated areas. Those include Seaman Road and Antioch Road in Latimer, Wire Road in Larue, East Belle Fontaine Road in Fountainbleu, John Holder Road/Red Bluff Road in Hurley, Beach Street in St. Andrews, and Jim Ramsay Road and Old River Road Loop in Vancleave.

"I think we've been very frugal with it, and I think we've done a lot to maximize all the dollars that are available to us," Mangum said. "And I still would like to have seen us try to cut some extra millage out of it."

Click here a detailed slide show outlining the county's plans for the budget.

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