Harrison County supervisors adopt new budget

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County employees will not be getting a pay raise for the sixth year in a row. The board of supervisors on Tuesday approved a new budget for the fiscal year that begins October first.

They kept the tax levy for county services about the same, although residents will be paying higher school taxes.

"We need to continue to watch every penny that comes in, because our taxpayers are having to watch every one that they take in. They'd like to see a tax cut, I'm sure," Supervisor Connie Rockco said during the budget discussions.

"If someone knows something that shows you that this revenue stream is going to grow, I sure would like to know about it. 'Cause at the growth rate we have now, it's the same as zero growth," said Board President Kim Savant.

That's why all county department heads were ordered to cut their budgets by five percent.

"It was pretty tough to be able to get the five percent. We sent it back to each department head and they had to go back and make their changes. And all of them were within it," said County Administrator Pam Ulrich.

Although the "zero growth" budget does not include layoffs of county employees, there's also no money for pay raises.  Again.

"Six consecutive years of no pay raises. And I'm really beginning to feel guilty about it, but we have to do what we have to do," said Savant.

As for the impact on the taxpayers, school taxes will go up.

"All the millage rates remain the same, except for the 2.06 increased millage in schools," Administrator Ulrich told the board.

Ronda Cole spoke against that school tax hike.  The mother of five has already graduated four children from Harrison Central.

"And it seems as if my tax dollars keep going to build a new school in the district, but my children don't get the benefit of new facilities," she told supervisors.

Though supervisors can't control school taxes, that didn't stop them from voicing concern.

"For the record, I do not agree with the tax increase the school board is putting on the people of the unincorporated areas," said Supervisor Windy Swetman.

"You're performing an administrative function, whether you approve it or not," said Supervisor Marlin Ladner.

"I understand that, I just said for the record, I don't agree with it," Supervisor Swetman added.

The board voted 3-to-2 to table the budget for the Harrison County Tourism Commission. Supervisor Rockco said she had some questions about it. Those questions will be addressed at the board's next meeting on September 24.

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