State of the County
[Editor’s note: This letter was prepared prior to last week’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting and read aloud at that meeting. County administrator Michael Thompson requested that this address be printed in its entirety in The Tunica Times.]
The excessive expenditure mentality that has been pervasive in Tunica County since the inception of gaming must come to an end. We must become fiscally responsible with our resources, which begins with doing the most basic job of governing...operating from and adhering to a balanced budget. Simply stated, expenditures should be in line with revenues.
‘Insolvent’ county tacks on new tax
Tunica County plans to borrow up to $3 million to meet a current shortfall in its general fund. Supervisors had voted previously to pursue such a loan, but on Monday, Feb. 3, the Board tacked on a new twist – repaying that loan with a 5 mill tax levy for three years.
District 4 supervisor Henry Nickson put forward and District 3’s Phillis Williams seconded a motion to “consider a tax levy to cover the shortfall loan, if necessary.” The Board passed the motion on a 4-1 vote, with District 2’s Cedric Burnett the dissenting vote.
Earlier in the discussion, county administrator Michael Thompson told the board that Tunica County was “insolvent” after the general fund balance dipped to negative $1.75 million in December. Thompson said the general fund had “borrowed” from the separate road department fund to cover the December overdraft but did not recommend continuing that practice.
And the rains came down...
The Town of Tunica and Tunica County gets inundated with heavy rains Tuesday, when three inches fell in a 24 hour period, most after 8 a.m.
Smoke-free policies still up in the air
The Town of Tunica is in the second month of an effort to become a smoke free workplace.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen opted to enact the policy in late December, after learning it would generate a substantial savings on employee health insurance rates. The town has six months to fully become a smoke free workplace.
Mayor Chuck Cariker said in the past, the town has paid the premiums for less than 20 percent of its workforce to be tobacco users.
Alderman Jack Graves asked how much that cost the town.
Cariker said tobacco use would cause a four percent rate increase for everyone covered by the policy. Graves estimated $13,000 per year.
Cariker said the town’s insurance carrier, BlueCross/Blue Shield, would cover anti-cessation drugs such as Chantix.
Alderman Brooks Taylor asked if department heads had spoken to employees about the new policy.
Cariker said they had done so once and initially, there were a few employees who were upset about the change. He suggested that the board set disciplinary action for those who fail to comply.
Graves asked how many employees were still using tobacco.
Police chief Richard Veazey said he had four officers who smoked. He did not think there were any smokeless tobacco users.
Veazey said the officers were aware that they cannot smoke during working hours.
Cariker said there were two or three smokers in the public works department as well.
The board opted to postpone a decision until their next meeting on what action to take if an employee fails to comply with the smoke free policy. Cariker offered to research what other communities are doing.
The board then took a step towards allowing golf carts to be used on town streets. Cariker said the vehicles are allowed in other communities in the state, such as Diamondhead.
Graves made a motion to pursue local and private legislation that would allow golf carts. Cariker said the legislation would include several regulations. The vehicles would only be permitted inside the corporate limits and would not be allowed on U.S. 61. Operators must be of legal driving age. All golf carts must be registered with the police department.
Rep. Clara H. Burnett will be asked to presented it to the legislature on the town’s behalf.
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