Board vows no tax hike for FY 2015
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 1:00 AM
Vowing to not raise taxes, the Neshoba County Board of Supervisors on Monday considered a proposed $6.5 million budget for 2015 which would grant raises for county employees, cover a 35-percent surge in health insurance costs as well as fund a state-mandated raise for the Sheriff.
The proposed budget includes a 50-cents-an-hour pay hike for all county employees in addition to funds to repair an inoperable elevator in the courthouse and to purchase a new boiler for the heating system.
The budget also has monies to fund the November general election as well as two primary elections in August.
The Neshoba County School District and the Union School District did not ask for an increase in the county's share of their budgets for the new year.
The proposed general fund budget does not include monies to fund the "wish lists" of most department heads, which totaled an additional $515,500 and would have required a tax hike.
County Administrator Benjie Coats said the proposed budget was very, very tight.
"Some of the questions I can't answer because I don't have a crystal ball," he said, noting that unexpected expenses could come up in the new year.
This past year, supervisors had to unexpectedly fund two compressors at the coliseum as well as new units at the jail and the Department of Human Services.
"Any way you slice it, it ain't gong to be pretty," Coats said. "The other fuzzy math is health insurance."
Allen Hardy of Philadelphia Security Insurance told supervisors on Monday that the county saw a 96 percent loss ratio in health insurance over the past year.
"They paid out 96 percent of what you paid in," he said.
The county is anticipating a 35 percent hike in health insurance for Fiscal 2015.
The monthly rate for an employee would rise from $298.93 to $403.56 under the current policy with United Healthcare.
Hardy told supervisors that he was awaiting a quote from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
"Just because we get it doesn't mean it will be lower," he said.
He told supervisors that healthcare was in a "bigger mess" now than it's ever been.
"It discouraging when you can't help people," he said.
Hardy reminded supervisors that under the Affordable Care Act, the county would have to offer health insurance in the near future to those part-time employees working 30 or more hours a week.
Coats said that would hit the jail and the county coliseum budgets the hardest.
"We are going to have to add them to the insurance or cut back and do something different," he said
The Sheriff will receive a $17,600 raise mandated by the Mississippi Legislature.