Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said he was not happy with the fact that almost all of the furloughs required by county supervisors to balance the fiscal year 2011 budget were coming out of his department.
"These cuts will have an impact on my work," McMillin said. "I may have to shift people around. We might have to work with one less person in crime prevention, or one less person in civil process. There is one area where we're operating under mandate to have a certain number of officers per inmate in the jail, so that's an area we can't cut, so before we cut that we would have to cut patrol, or investigations or administration or anything else. It'll have an impact."
The Hinds County Board of Supervisors passed a $119.9 million fiscal year 2011 county budget Friday containing $725,000 in funds resulting from a controversial interest rate swap, and the closing of more than 20 positions in the sheriff's department. McMillin said that many of the closed positions had only been vacated for a short time and were not positions the county could easily do without for long: "Some of these positions were occupied by people who left last week or some were terminated as a result of not showing up for work, so you can't really put a finger on the average amount of time they've been empty," McMillin said.
The budget, which represents an increase from the $113 million fiscal year 2010 budget, also includes an increase in medical costs for Hinds County correctional facility inmates from $1.7 million in fiscal year 2010 to $2.3 million this year. The budget also includes cost increases such as a 4.9 increase in employee-hospitalization expenses, and an overall increase of 7 percent in general-fund expenses due to repayment of debt.
Despite the budget increase, the country eliminated 23 vacant positions for $727,165.82 in savings, and introduced a total of eight furlough days for the first eight months of the new fiscal year, which saved the county $860,339. The budget includes an overall 5 percent decrease in the level of funding for externally funded agencies such as the Jackson-Hinds Library System, which will see a $26,744 drop from the county allocation of $1.5 million in fiscal year 2010. Funding for mental-health services dropped to $1,179,715 from $1,228,294 last year. Hinds County is also cutting payments to family and children services from $20,000.84 last year to $12,500 this year.
The board also approved a millage increase of 0.02 for Hinds County Public Schools, raising last year's millage rate of 60.98 to 61. Millage tax is another name for property tax. To calculate 61 mills, multiply the value of a home by 61 and then divide by 1000. An $80,000 home at a mil rate of 61 would owe $4,880 a year in property tax before homestead exemption and other factors.
Supervisor Robert Graham praised Hinds County's use of an interest-rate swap, orchestrated through the financial advisor Porter Bingham. The county balanced its budget partially through $725,000 in swap earnings from 2005 and 2007.
"We balanced the budget," Graham told the Jackson Free Press. "That's what matters to me."