Supervisors Cut Development Commission's Budget - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/29/03

Supervisors Cut Development Commission's Budget

The development commission's executive director told the supervisors how his agency's four budgets work, and about the commission's $30 million capital improvements program. But Supervisor Marlin Ladner was more interested in what he kept calling the commission's $7million surplus.

"At the end of the year you shouldn't be holding funds of a million dollars, or half a million or six million or any numbers of dollars. It should be like a zero based budgeting," Ladner said.

Michael Olivier said the money isn't surplus.

"We've never had a surplus. We have monies that are dedicated. Each year we have monies that are dedicated and because of the fact that we haven't been able to expend those dollars that fiscal year it may roll over to the next year," Olivier said.

But Ladner countered, "You cannot tell me any other commission or department that is budgeted through this board of supervisors maintains a surplus fund at the end of this budget year within millions of dollars."

"But every economic development group does, sir," Olivier responded.

Ladner argued if the commission has $7 million dollars, it doesn't need the $955,000 it gets from the county in property taxes.

Supervisor Larry Benefield asked Olivier, "Can you fund and operate our industrial parks this coming year without any funding from the board of supervisors?"

Olivier said, "If that is the case what we would do is we would postpone a list of projects that we would postpone to another fiscal year. It's just that simple."

The supervisors voted to cut the development commission's funding after lunch. Olivier wasn't there. A spokesperson in his office says he will have no further comment about the board's action.

The supervisors must cut $2million to stay within the $51million operating budget. Otherwise, the supervisors could be forced to raise taxes. The board will continue its budget crunching next week.

byMarcia Hill

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