2020/2021 process complete and plans are underway
by Aimee robinette
The Bolivar Bullet
The Bolivar County Board of Supervisors recently completed its 2020/2021 budget process and public hearing. The supervisors did not have a millage increase within their own budget – the general fund. However, County Administrator Will Hooker said two junior colleges, Mississippi Delta Community College and Coahoma Community College, each asked for a .25 mill increase for the upcoming fiscal year for a total of .5 mills. Local school districts within Bolivar County also requested and received various millage increases.
“The board gave a 3 percent raise to county employees for the fiscal year 2020-2021,” said Hooker. “The supervisors worked this out so they did not have to increase millage from their general fund. We are always interested in improving the quality of life for our employees while being fiscally responsible.”
Under the supervisor’s general fund, the biggest budget increase request came from the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office. Its 2019-2010 budget was approved at $2,524,252 and 2020-2021 was approved for $2,743,959. That’s a total of a $219,707 increase.
“The sheriff wants to have a bigger footprint in the county as far as safety, which means additional deputies and additional patrolling,” said Hooker. “Bolivar County is a large county, second in land mass. We are trying to move forward and get a functioning litter control program, which falls under the sheriff’s department. We want to make sure we are exhibiting the pride in our county that our citizens have as well as from a beautification standpoint. Litter is a crime, and it takes all of us to get it under control and make an impact but the supervisors want to do their part.”
Bolivar County Sheriff Kelvin Williams said his department is looking for more manpower.
“We are short on deputies and patrolmen compared to the territory that we have to cover,” he said. “The demand for the sheriff’s department has increased because the smaller municipalities no longer have their own departments anymore. We want to ensure that we are able to assist whenever and wherever we can.”
As far as the litter program, Williams said they will hire someone soon to oversee inmates.
“We are also working on receiving inmates that are classified and able to go out and work in the community. We are short on inmates, mostly due to Covid. This program may not be immediately put into action, but we are working on it and making sure it gets started back in the county. We are working to ensure public safety, and safety for the inmates due to Covid,” he explained.
Williams also said Central District Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons has OK’d a vehicle for the Sheriff’s Department to use in the program.
“That is one of his goals as well,” said Williams. “He is very interested in keeping the county clean as well.”
Vehicles will be another must for additional patrolling in the county.
“We are grateful the board has allowed us to try and accomplish our goals and that is to protect and serve the residents of Bolivar County,” said Williams.
The Bolivar County Maintenance Department received a $68,462 increase. Hooker said they are putting in a new elevator at the Cleveland Courthouse, which has been much needed to assist and be compliant with being handicap-accessible. There has also been additions to the Bolivar County Expo Center and other buildings.
The Bolivar County Justice Court received a $65,456 budget increase. Justice Court Clerk Dorothy Lewis said her budget was cut significantly last year, so this year was to bring her back to a manageable budget. “I appreciate the supervisors for assisting us with our budget,” said Lewis.
The Rabies Animal Control department requested and received a $30,000 increase. Hooker said this was for the expansion and additions to the Cleveland-Bolivar County Animal Shelter, which is a partnership between the city and county.
Hooker said it is important to note the board was prudent in looking at the county holistically and ensured the budget was balanced in a way that was beneficial for all.
A complete copy of the budget may be obtained at the Bolivar County Chancery Clerk’s Office.