Show me the money
TRUCK MAINTENANCE Lauderdale County employee Dewayne Todd performs maintenance on a 3,700-gallon tanker truck for the Martin Volunteer Fire Department. The county is responsible for maintaining about 70 volunteer fire department trucks. Work like that would be funded by the county's proposed $38 million budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Photo by Carisa McCain / The Meridian Star
By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Sept. 15, 2002
Public safety and public works would be the two biggest spenders next year if Lauderdale County supervisors approve a proposed $38 million annual budget.
County supervisors propose spending $8.3 million on public safety next year, a category that includes the sheriff's department, volunteer fire departments, emergency management and 911.
Supervisors also propose spending $8.2 million on public works, a category that includes roads, bridges, sanitation and other capital projects.
Supervisors have been meeting with department heads and working on the proposed county budget for more than a month. They were looking for ways to trim spending as late as Friday.
County residents can learn more about the budget at a public hearing set for 5:30 p.m. Monday in the courthouse annex. Supervisors are expected to give final approval on Thursday.
The new budget would take effect Oct. 1, the start of the next fiscal year.
County engineer Neal Carson said the spending in public works is necessary. He said garbage disposal alone costs the county $1.4 million a year to provide.
He said the $1.4 million pays for disposal costs, garbage trucks, maintenance and salaries and benefits of 12 workers to operate 400 greenboxes at 100 locations six days a week.
Besides that, Carson said it can cost up to $100,000 to pave one mile of dirt road. He said the county paved 10 miles of dirt road this summer and plans to overlay 10 miles with asphalt this fall.
He said the county expects to pave as many miles of road in the 2003 fiscal year as it did in 2002.
One of his department's difficulties, Carson said, is that the road department hasn't purchased any heavy equipment in the last three years and that the level of service has dropped off.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said the largest part of his budget is personnel salaries and benefits. He said it costs about $4,000 a person just for health insurance premiums.
Sollie said his department spends $70,000 a year on gasoline and an estimated $125,000 on insurance to protect the department against law suits.
He could not say exactly how many law suits are filed against the sheriff's department a year.
In 2002, Sollie said the jail had $80,000 less to operate, yet experienced a 21 percent increase in meals served and a 14 percent increase in bookings.