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County Commission Hears Broadband Proposal, Complaint About Wheel Tax

Posted 10/15/19

HUNTINGDON (October 14) — On Monday, Carroll County Resolutions Commission approved the agenda for the October 14 meeting of the Carroll County Commission. On the agenda were appointments to …

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County Commission Hears Broadband Proposal, Complaint About Wheel Tax


HUNTINGDON (October 14) — On Monday, Carroll County Resolutions Commission approved the agenda for the October 14 meeting of the Carroll County Commission. On the agenda were appointments to committees, financial matters, a presentation on broadband internet, and matters concerning the Watershed Authority, the owner of the Carroll County 1000-Acre Recreational Lake.

Representatives of TEC of Mississippi addressed commissioners concerning a proposal to add fiber optic lines to provide broadband internet to the rural areas of McLemoresville and Buena Vista at no cost to the county. TEC asked and received support of an application for a state grant of $2 million to build out the fiber network. The company plans to expand into other areas of the county, if state and federal grant funds are available for the initial and subsequent requests.

Commissioners approved a resolution requesting the designation of a broadband-ready community to support TEC’s request.

Cyril and Janis Ostiguy addressed the full county commission concerning the annual $10 wheel tax first implemented in 2003 for the construction and development of a 1000-acre recreation lake.

Janis Ostiguy, a private citizen, made the following address to the Commission.

“Good evening to you all and thank you for the opportunity of addressing you tonight.

“As we talked about the lake with our neighbors and friends, we were astounded by all the negative rhetoric surrounding the lake, and the fact the people feel they have no say in this tax.

“As interested citizens, we began to research the Lake to find out why there is so much negativity.

“As I begin to research a topic, I often look to Our founding fathers are a source of great wisdom.

“One quote that I hold to be true and helpful to remember as I research topics relates to our talk tonight.

“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

“The first amendment of our Constitution guarantees that right to every American citizen to speak out and question our government openly and peacefully.

“So, we began circulating this petition -simply to gather the thoughts and concerns of the people of our county.

“As I am sure you can imagine we certainly got an earful of information.

“The lake itself that is not the problem- however, the wheel tax imposed upon the citizens is and then having to pay to use the lake just does not sit well with most we spoke with.

“I know taxes are necessary, it is how our government takes care of us.

“Even the good book teaches us to render to Caesar that which is due to him.

“What I do mind is not understanding the way those taxes are spent and feeling I have no say in that..

“I have concerns about the sustainability of the Watershed Authority Business plan.

“Having reviewed the audits of the Watershed Authority for the past several years I also have concerns about some of the expenditures, such as $6,800 for a flag pole or $9,800 for a telephone.

“I believe any business budget should be balanced and as I practice with my home budget never spends nor borrows more than I can repay.

“In 2015 the State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, III specifically addressed the wheel tax issue.

“In his analysis, the Attorney General cited SB.197 passed by the 93rd Gen Assembly in 1983 as the precedence for his opinion.

“In support of that bill Rep. Bragg stated the bill would allow county commissions to (”increase, decrease or cancel a wheel tax”) and passed in first regular session March 22, 1983 and was signed by the governor.

“Wheel taxes have been removed in our state in the past. Just two years ago in Smith County did it in 2017. I believe you as Carroll County commissioners have that authority and should address this issue for the people of our county. Thank you.”

Commissioner Brian Winston said, CTAS attorneys have opined the referendum is the authority document over any other documents that were signed at the time of the lake’s creation.

Commissioner Darrell Ridgely said, it appears the Watershed Authority and the county disagree about the meaning of constructing the lake and developing the lake. We have now invested more than $4 million with no end to the tax.

Originally, the lake was estimated to cost $10 million but now is closer to $30 million. Motorists must pay 30 percent of the cost of construction and development through a wheel tax.

Commissioners voted whether or not to establish the county’s Budget Committee as the liaison between the county of Carroll and the Carroll County Watershed Authority. Presently, any expenditure of funds for the development of the lake by the CCWA is a future liability of the motorists who pay the wheel tax. The county has to collect the revenue but has no say in the matter.

The commission elected Mayor Joseph Butler as chairman and John Mann chairman pro tempore for the legislative body for a one-year period.

Approved committees assignments, as recommended by the mayor, are as follows:

BUDGET COMMITTEE — Willie Huffman, Chairman, Johnny Blount, Secretary, Manuel Crossno, Darrell Ridgely, and Brian Winston

TAX RATE COMMITTEE — Vince Taylor, Chairman, John Austin, Secretary, Hal Eason, Johnny Blount, and Bobby Argo.

LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMITTEE — Ronnie Murphy, Chairman, Hal Eason, Secretary, Vince Taylor, Jimmy McClure, and Joel Washburn.

DELINQUENT TAX COMMITTEE — Jimmy McClure, Chairman, Ronnie Murphy, Secretary, Randy Long, Steve Parker, Manuel Crossno, and Darrell Ridgely.

CIVIC CENTER COMMITTEE — Paula Watkins, Chairman, Jeremy Fowler, Secretary, Larry Spencer, Bobby Argo, Jeff Carter, and Lori Nolen.

RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE — Larry Spencer, Chairman, Joel Washburn, Secretary, Manuel Crossno, John Mann, and Lori Nolen.

INSURANCE COMMITTEE — John Austin, Chairman, Larry Spencer, Secretary, Willie Huffman, Jimmy McClure, Lori Nolen, and Joel Washburn.

PURCHASING COMMITTEE — Jeff Carter, Chairman, Paula Bolen, Secretary, Darlene Kirk, Paula Watkins, Vince Taylor, and Joseph Butler.

HIGHWAY COMMITTEE — Johnny Blount, Chairman, Paula Reynolds, Secretary, John Mann, Vince Taylor, Jeremy Fowler, Brian Winston, and Ronnie Murphy.

BEER BOARD — Steve Parker, Chairman, Bobby Argo, Secretary, John Mann, John Austin, and Larry Spencer.

RURAL FIRE COMMITTEE — Darrell Ridgely, Chairman, Jimmy McClure, Secretary, Bobby Argo, Johnny Blount, Ronnie Murphy, and Jeremy Fowler.

RULES COMMITTEE — Joel Washburn, Chairman, Randy Long, Secretary, Gerald Scarbrough, Paula Watkins, and Hal Eason.

SOLID WASTE COMMITTEE — John Mann, Chairman, Gerald Scarbrough, Secretary, Jeff Carter, Brian Winston, John Austin, and Steve Parker.

PERSONNEL COMMITTEE — Gerald Scarbrough, Chairman, Manuel Crossno, Secretary, Willie Huffman, Paula Watkins, and Randy Long.

PROPERTIES COMMITTEE — Hal Eason, Chairman, Randy Long, Secretary, Brian Winston, Gerald Scarbrough, Willie Huffman, and Darrell Ridgely.

Other recommended appointments are: Library Board - Chris Rich, Robyn Hatler, and Lesley White; Indigent Care Board - Phyllis Smith, Meredith Surber and John Mann.

A resolution was approved to amend the Civic Center budget by $4,800 is on the agenda. It will pay the county’s portion of the new director’s health insurance.

A resolution amends the Sheriff Department budget in the amount of $75,194 to account for new student resource officers at Hollow Rock and West Carroll is also on the budget. The individual school systems reimburse the cost of SROs.

A resolution transfers $2,904.54 from insurance proceeds for damage to a sheriff’s department vehicle.


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