CHARLESTON - Mississippi County Assessor W.R. "Bill" Thompson discussed the budget with county commissioners Thursday, attributing much of the problems to the increased cost of health insurance.
Thompson said once the money in his discretionary budget is diverted to cover a shortfall in his office's non-discretionary budget, his office will be left with only about $230 to pay his postage bill and for next year's paper supplies.
"It kind of puts a bind on me for my year-end billing," Thompson said. "Postage is a big item."
Thompson said there is nothing he can do about his discretionary budget deficit. "I have no control over that whatsoever."
He said he will adjust his postage and supply purchases to make his bottom line.
"I'm going to come within the budget," said Thompson. "But I don't want to be penalized next year."
Thompson said as budgets are determined by looking at previous year budgets, he doesn't want his discretionary spending cut next year because of the adjustments.
Accounting for the difference in next year's budget is "just a matter of shifting numbers, Thompson," said Homer Oliver, commissioner.
Thompson then moved on to his second topic, requesting commissioners adopt a statute he has pitched to them previously.
If adopted, the statute would change the way residential property goes "on the books," according to Thompson.
"I highly recommend that you do it - the state recommends that you do it," Thompson said.
As it is now, assessment is based entirely on property owned as of Jan. 1. "If you buy a car Jan. 2, you get a year's grace," said Thompson.
If adopted, the statute will change it so residential property goes on the books in the event of new construction or off the books in the event of a disaster on the first day of the next month.
The statute also requires utility companies to notify the county of new construction.
"Will this burden your office any?" Oliver asked.
"Oh, certainly," Thompson answered. He said it means he and his staff will have to immediately review properties with new construction so they can go on the books at beginning of the next month rather than at any time during the year.
County Clerk Junior DeLay said during later discussion, however, that as the reviews must be done eventually anyway, "It's just a matter of timing - when you do it."
Thompson also asked commissioners to set aside the additional revenue his office would receive for technical support for the assessor's office.
Officials have estimated an additional $8,000-$10,000 would be diverted to the assessor's fund under the provision of the statute.
Thompson said the statute will also benefit other taxing entities such as the schools by putting new construction on the books sooner. "I feel its a good thing for the county," said Thompson.
For the statute to be in effect next year, it must be adopted this year, Thompson said.
Later in the meeting, commissioners reviewed line item expenditures in the assessor's discretionary budget such as travel and training under which $1,850 was budgeted but $4,870 was spent. DeLay said the typical cost for an office holder to attend their annual required conference is between $500-$800.
Also discussed were two two-case purchases of scratch pads by the assessor's office. Commissioners figured that comes up to 3,200 scratch pads.
In other county business:
* Blumenberg said the road and bridge department needs to call some employees back from vacation before the end of the year to maintain the roads. "We've got to grade some roads," said Blumenberg.
* Commissioners discussed amending the county personnel policy to include operating hours for the courthouse which must be observed by county employees.
"The law says the public has to be informed," DeLay said.
Blumenberg said there should be no exceptions to office hours "unless somebody's notified and we can make arrangements," said Blumenberg. "Don't put a note on your office saying, 'Be back at 1 p.m.' and then not come back till 2 p.m."
* Commissioners adopted a fair housing resolution and a excessive force resolution as required for the water district's Community Development Block Grant.
DeLay said the county has adopted resolutions with the exact same language for previous CBDGs.
* Commissioners approved submitting a recycling grant application to fund a brush/limb recycling project.
The county is requesting a grant of $19,200 toward the projected total cost of $34,855. The county will put in matching funds of $5,720 cash and $9,935 worth of in-kind contributions.
DeLay said the brush chipper for the program will cost approximately $24,000.
Letters of support from the county health department, the Charleston Department of Public Safety and cities within the county will be sent along with the application.
* Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Raffety and Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Spencer will attend the Project Safe Neighborhood National Conference Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Philadelphia.
The assistant prosecutor, who was hired with a gun violence prosecution grant, will have his trip and expenses covered by the Department of Justice.
The prosecutor's trip will be paid from the prosecutor's deliquent sales tax fund.
The conference will include a gun violence prosecutor grantee meeting.
* Commissioners appointed Sam Story Jr. of Charleston as an additional member on the Bootheel Resource Conservation District and reappointed Carlla Turnbo of East Prairie.
* Oliver reported the dogwood and oak trees purchased for the Oak Grove Cemetery have been planted.