Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved budget, will increase taxes for 2022

Published 11:26 am Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved the Fiscal Year 2022 budget on Tuesday and approved an increase in the county’s millage rate.

The supervisors voted on the local tax which comprises  60.24% of the revenue for Lafayette County. Fines, licenses and other revenues comprise 19.75%; state revenues, 10.86%; charges for services, 9.02% and federal funding, .12%.

During the meeting, the supervisors approved the county’s new millage rate of 37.98, an increase from the county’ s former milage rate of 36.98.

The millage increase will be applied to car tags and properties in the area which increases the revenue to the county. The 1 mill the board approved is the equivalent of $1 for every $1,000 of the assessed value of a property.

“For instance, your house is assessed by the tax collector and there is a value assessed to it like $100,000,” said Lisa Carwyle, Lafayette County Administrator. “However many mills are multiplied by that gives you your tax rate. 

The reappraisal may have changed the assessment value. The appraiser might have come out to your house and said the value has changed and now the house is worth $150,000. Then you multiply that price by the millage rate to get your property tax owed.”

The county recently had a reappraisal of the county’s property which is set to 1 mill and the reappraisal update set to .5 mill. The assessed value is only a percentage of the true value.

“The true value of a home could be $165,000, if this is their primary residence and they file homestead then the ratio is 10%,” said Carwyle. “That equals an assessed value of $16,500.”

The property owner would then multiply the assessed value by the millage rate of 37.98, or .03798, and the amount of taxes owed would be $626.67.

According to Carwyle, the increased mileage will help fund projects and increases the board has been anticipating.

The board approved a $1,200 per year cost of living pay increase to 227 full-time county employees, including Carwyle. This does not include the Board of Supervisors whose pay is set by legislation.

The revenue from the increased millage will allow the county to hire nine full-time firefighters for the Lafayette County Fire Department. There will be three 24-hour shifts and three firefighters stationed during each shift.

The firefighters will be stationed at Station 10 (Central) on County Road 1032 in Oxford. According to county fire chief Wes Anderson, the new hires will be of great help to the part-time and volunteer firefighters in responding to emergencies in Lafayette County.

“We’ve had a large increase in call volume over the last several years and these firefighters will help support our paid-per-call members during the night time and weekend hours,” he said. “We’ve had part-time firefighters working during the week for a couple of years now and we’re expanding the program to get as much support as we can.”

Along with the hired firefighters, a new pumper truck was purchased for the fire department.

“[The truck] will allow us to maintain our Mississippi State Rating Bureau rating and take some older equipment out of service,” said Anderson.

The budget will also allow the Lafayette COunty Sheriff’s Department to expand the Sheriff’s Office and renovate the Detention Center.

The county will move forward on construction projects by building new facilities on County Road 406 and beginning the final phase of the West Oxford Loop and Sisk Avenue extension, which will go from College Hill Road to Highway 7 North.

“It’s a small millage increase, but things are getting hard for our fire protection, police, sheriff’s department and jail,” said Mike Roberts. “Some things need to be done.”

The county’s 2022 milage rate is set to 70.37 for Lafayette County Schools and to 2.47 for Northwest Community College. The total budgeted revenue for 2022 is $36,168,784 with the Ad Valorem tax making up 60% of the revenue. The budgeted revenue for county schools is $11,412,439 and $1,849,678 for Northwest.

Public safety will receive 36% of the distributed tax dollars. The money will be used to hire nine full-time firefighters; purchase a new pumper truck for the fire department, expand the Sheriff’s office; and renovatie the detention center. Public works will get 28% of the funds; 19% for the General Government; 5% each for Courts and Debt Service; 4% for Heath & Other; and 3% for Capital Projects like the Sisk Avenue Extension.

“There is a lot of time put in by all departments,” said Mike Roberts, president of the Board of Supervisors. “This board has learned a lot and, despite what it may look like from the outside, it’s a pretty conservative approach to the way this county is growing. I’m proud to serve this board.”