Oktibbeha behind on budget, new fire engine purchase approved

Staff Writer

Oktibbeha County may run behind with its tax assessment, due to issues with mapping.

At the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday, tax assessor Allen Morgan said mapping the districts for reassessment was taking longer than expected and is preventing the millage rate and other information from being known by the usual deadline of the first week of July. The delay could have an effect on the city of Starkville, Starkville- Oktibbeha Consolidated School District and other entities who budget based off the county’s millage rate and ad valorem taxes.

Morgan said he would try to have the figures in two weeks, but he couldn’t make any guarantees.

“We’ve already asked for an extension, about a 30-day extension from the department of revenue,” Morgan said. “It’s out of our control. We’ve got the appraiser out there working. It’s really not just one person’s fault. It’s just, we’ve got the city growing, construction everywhere you go.”

Morgan recommended using last year’s numbers for the time being.

“I would think it would be more, but I cannot guarantee that,” Morgan said. “I’d love to have it today, but we don’t have it.”

He largely blamed the issues on contract appraisers falling behind schedule and the length of time it takes each year to figure mapping out.

“That’s something I think we ought to look at, doing a contract for several years down the road,” Morgan said of the mapping. He also said, while he is running behind for the first time since he began workingfor Oktibbeha County, other counties across the state had seen similar issues.

“Let’s see what the next couple of weeks bring, and we’ll see what kind of direction this goes, and we can work it out,” said Board President Orlando Trainer.

The board also unanimously approved the purchase of a new fire engine for the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department. The vote came after a presentation from Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan and East Oktibbeha Fire Department Chief Greg Ball. In addition to the need for the new engine, the presentation covered other challenges faced by the department. Ball said he had originally planned to request two engines, but after assessing fire funds realized the organization could only afford a single engine at the moment.The cost of the engine will be close to $300,000.

“The rating bureau requires 15-year-old trucks to be replaced,” Ball said. “We have several that need tobe replaced right now, but (with) our cash flow and our budget right now, we can acquire one. We wanted to come and ask for two today, but our cash flow and our accounts will not let us do that.”

The acquisition of the truck will take approximately a year, and follows the Sturgis department getting its fire rating down to a seven outside of city limits. He said the county fire department planned to come back in the next fiscal year to request a new truck for the Maben Fire Department.

“Hopefully, the rating bureau will see that coming forth, and the truck that’s there now will be able to pass,” Ball said.

In order for a department to continue receiving credit for its truck from the rating bureau, the vehicle must go through extensive tests after reaching 15 years of life.

“Sometimes it’s worth doing that, sometimes it’s not worth doing that,” Ball said. “It depends on what’s wrong with the truck at that time. We don’t put a lot of miles on our trucks. We got one right now that’s got 10,000 miles on it, but it’s 10 years old. We don’t put many miles on it, but we put age on them quickly.”

Rosenhan said the mileage is not always reflective of the condition of the engine, which also drives the pump.

In addition, the board also discussed possible improvements to Longview Road, with several concerned citizens of the area present at the meeting.