Hearing set for $89M Lamar County School District budget


The Lamar County School District will hold a public hearing on its proposed budget for fiscal year 2018-19 on June 21, proposing an increased revenue from ad valorem taxes of almost $1.5 million.

The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the Lamar County School District Office, 424 Martin Luther King Drive, Purvis. Superintendent Tess Smith said the voluntary consolidation that brings the Lumberton schools into the Lamar County School District on July 1 should not be affected with the new budget.

“(Consolidation) is going extremely well,” she said. “At this point, we are just trying to make sure that we tie up all the loose ends. We are also getting final hires board approved and get everyone into our payroll system.”

According to the notice of the public hearing, the current budget revenue is projected to be $89,413,900.49. Of that amount, 27.59 percent or $24,675,332 of such revenue is obtained through ad valorem taxes.

For the 2019 fiscal year, the proposed budget has a total projected revenue of $98,045,016.38. Of that amount, 27.13 percent or $26,600,000.00 is proposed to be financed through a total ad valorem tax levy.

The fiscal year 2018 budget request was the same as 2017, which did not force a countywide tax increase.

Smith said the school district’s budget was affected with the loss of Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding from the formula.

“We took a huge hit last year with the loss of our high growth money, causing us to have to decrease salaries to teachers and administrators,” she said. “We have worked diligently all year to restore everyone. We strive to be good stewards of tax dollars and will continue in that vain.”

The value of Lamar County’s mill changes every year based on the appraisal of Lamar County property. Smith said valuation should increase this year.

“As you know, we do not set the price of a mill,” she said. “We only request a number of mills. With the continued growth in Lamar County, I would imagine that a mill will bring in more money.”

Smith added that the ad valorem tax could increase next year.

“For the next fiscal year, the proposed increase in ad valorem tax effort by the Lamar County School District may result in an increase in the ad valorem tax millage rate,” she said. “Ad valorem taxes are paid on homes, automobile tags, business fixtures and equipment and rental real property.”

At the public hearing June 21, any citizen of the Lamar County School District can speak for a reasonable amount of time and offer tangible evidence before any vote is taken.