Burton: Budget Hearings Useless

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Elected officials from Lauderdale County are invited to share their concerns, ideas and solutions to problems each month when the Council of Governments meets.

State Sen. Terry Burton of Newton, whose district includes a portion of Lauderdale County, attended Monday.

He warned the other officials there are problems with next year's state budget.

"The most useless activity during the off season the legislature has conducted has been the budget hearings that took place during the month of September," Burton said. "We don't know how much money is going to come in. We have no idea where the funding is going to come from or where it's going. We will revisit all of those issues after the first of January. I don't see how we can do anything right now or make any promises right now or anything else."

Burton did advocate the concept of a local option sales tax called "MOST", a position District 2 Lauderdale County supervisor Jimmie Smith endorsed.

"I think it goes back to home rule. I don't think the legislature ought to be able to have its thumb on cities and counties where the taxation issues are concerned," said Smith. "As it is, I think we're going to pay for our jail for a pretty good while, but if we had MOST, that's a capital improvement we could have paid off in probably a few years as opposed to 10 or 15 years. I think it's a smart program."

Smith brought Deborah Scott of Atlanta to the meeting. Scott has been assigned to Meridian by state Sen. Barbara Blackmon, in an effort to get out the local vote.

"I think we have a lot of support but we need people to actually get up on Election Day, rain or shine, and take five people to the polls with you and go vote," said Scott.

Blackmon, a Democrat, is opposing Republican incumbent Amy Tuck for lieutenant governor.