Controversial Year for Harrison County

Harrison County Supervisors started the year facing both sides of the emotional Confederate battle flag debate. Flag protesters demanded the flag come down from the beachfront eight flags display. Flag supporters rallied to keep it flying. Supervisor Marlin Ladner sided with the supporters. "I wouldn't do anything differently than I did before. I think we listened to the issues, we heard all sides, and I think each individual board of supervisor has to make a determination about how he or she feels about a decision and I would not change any decisions that I've made," Ladner says.

The supervisors didn't have a choice in the state's mandated property reappraisal. They agree it's tough trying to explain to people why reappraisal jacked their property taxes so high. Hundreds of people  have complained to the supervisors about their taxes. Senior citizens who can afford it the least are the ones reappraisal hit the hardest. District 5 Supervisor Connie Rocko says "There were times when I left here and couldn't sleep at night and was teary eyed because of the increase that we've had to put on handicapped and the elderly. The board is trying to help. The supervisors have asked the legislature to increase the amount of homestead exemption for senior citizens and the disabled. But another tax hike could be on the way if the legislature lets Harrison County voters decide to add one cent to the sales tax to generate money for a new East/West road. "Certainly no one wants new taxes. Maybe there are plans out there we haven't looked hard enough at yet. I think this year you'll see a lot of soul searching concerning the issue of East/West corridor, is it gonna work, is it what the public truly wants and I think this year you'll see us look harder at that than we ever have," says District 2 Supervisor Larry Benefield.

The supervisors say none of the decisions they make pleases everyone. But they have to think of what's best for the whole county, not just a few people.