Supervisors approve $41M budget
Residents of Tate County can breathe a collective sigh of relief after the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a $41 million budget for 2022 that includes a significant reduction in millage rate resulting in an ad valorem tax decrease.
“This Board has stuck to its original pledge of lowering taxes while continuing to improve infrastructure,” said Tate County Administrator Cole Massie. “Assessed property values increased 5.4% this year and our county taxable value increased by 7.2% because several industrial exemptions expired. Those were big factors when preparing this year’s budget.”
Massie said those elements would result in a reduced cost for vehicle tags and lower property taxes for Tate County residents if the assessed value of individual property did not increase.
Tate County Supervisors presented the budget for Fiscal Year 2022 at a public hearing Monday, Sept. 13, that includes a base millage rate of 76.60, a reduction of 2.31 when compared to the previous year. Supervisors adopted the budget after no objections were made.
There’s even better news for citizens who live in the Tate County School District. Those residents will see an 8.95 overall reduction in ad valorem taxes if the assessed value of their property did not increase for 2022.
Although the school district requested approximately the same amount of money from ad valorem taxes this year, the millage reduction was made possible due to the increase in assessed values, according to Massie.
The county millage rate has seen a tremendous drop over the last three years for people who reside in the Tate County School District from 152.2 in 2018 and 2019 to 136.61 for 2022.
“We hope this is just the beginning,” said Tony Sandridge, President of the Board of Supervisors. “Repairing infrastructure is very important to our constituents and vital for the future growth of the county. Doing that while lowering taxes is a win-win situation for everyone.”
Massie said the goal is to ultimately lower the millage rate so that it is comparable to the 127.0 average of all counties in northwest Mississippi. As of Fiscal Year 2020, the state average millage rate was 117.10 with Humphreys County checking in highest at 167.19.
Massie said Supervisors completed several projects throughout the county this year and were still able to remain under budget, including converting from the beat system to the unit system of road administration.
“The hiring of a road manager allowed Supervisors to focus on their other duties and responsibilities such as economic development that will have a direct impact on increasing the assessed values in the future while also repairing the most-traveled roads and the ones in the worst condition,” he explained.
Massie said the unit system eliminated the process of preparing five separate road and bridge budgets. It also reduced costs for labor, parts, maintenance, and the reduction of equipment needed, allowing for more funds which will be spent on roads and bridges.
At $5.2 million, public safety takes up a huge share of Tate County’s budget for 2022 with law enforcement receiving $3.8 million of those expenditures. That includes money allocated for administrative expenses for the Tate County Sheriff’s Department as well as the Tate County Jail.
The next largest line item in the budget outside of public works is “general government” costs, which accounts for around $4.4 million of the county’s total budget. Massie said this primarily covers public building improvement projects and the cost of health insurance and other benefits for county employees.
“We have been able to reduce the cost of health care coverage three of the last four years while earning the same benefits,” Massie explained. The Tate County budget takes effect Oct. 1, the official start of the 2022 Fiscal Year.