Supervisors Pass Budget with Tax Increase

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

The board raised taxes by 1.87 mills from last year, the same amount it cut taxes last year. Supervisors say they didn't have a choice.

The budget passed 3-2 Thursday, with Wayman Newell and Ray Boswell opposing it.

Two budgets were actually put to a vote Thursday. Both included a tax increase of 1.87 mills. The failed budget included taking $120,000 from the $250,000 given to Meridian Community College and using it to stripe and pave county roads.

The budget that passed gave all $250,000 to MCC.

Newell said he voted against the budget for reasons of his own, none of which included what was said to be an inevitable tax increase, which will bump taxes back up to where they were in 2009.

"This year we had to go back up. I didn't vote for it," said Newell. "The main reason I didn't vote for it was the county employees."

It has been three years since county employees received a raise. Some still work for $9.20 an hour.

"I feel like I fell down on my job for not getting those raises," Newell said.

Lauderdale County administrator, Joe McCraney defended the budget and says it could have been a lot worse.

"My first meeting was a special called meeting because there wasn't enough money to pay the bills. My predecessor told me we would have to raise taxes seven to eight mils," said McCraney. "Instead of that, we got in here and we had to cut, cut and use innovative refinancing techniques. And we pooled a lot of our general obligation debt. Instead of going 7-8 mills, we made up our mind that we were not going higher than what we were in 2009."

The new tax increase means county homeowners will pay no more in property taxes than they did in 2009, unless they have significantly improved their property.

Here is what the tax increase will amount to . . .

Outside the city, the increase will be almost $10 more per year for a house that's worth $50,000. It will be about $19 more for a $100,000 house.

The hike will increase taxes by $19.75 per year for a $50,000 house inside the city, and $39.50 more for a $100,000 house.


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