Alliance asks county for about $400,000

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 23, 2004

[07/23/04] The Vicksburg Warren Community Alliance Thursday asked the Warren County Board of Supervisors to set aside one mill’s worth of money, about $400,000, in the next fiscal year’s advertising budget for use on Alliance promotion projects.

However, supervisors warned the group the county may not be in a position to comply with the request.

Several members of the Alliance board of trustees and its interim director Charlotte Koestler Duffey met with supervisors during the board’s regular informal meeting.

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Duffey told the board the group wanted to begin talking about asking the supervisors to allocate money under a section of state law that permits the allocation of money for advertising. The county board has just begun the processes that will lead to setting a budget and establishing a millage rate for Fiscal Year 2005, which begins Oct. 1.

“I understand you have the right to assess up to one mill, which is a substantial amount of money, for this advertising and promotion statute and we want to suggest you that you do that,” said Bobby Bailess, chairman of the Alliance board of trustees.

Although final figures are not complete, County Administrator Rick Polk said a single mill of taxation would generate about $400,000 in FY 2005.

Bailess said the Alliance is asking that the money be set aside to be used for Alliance promotion projects.

“I’m not here today to relinquish any control of those funds. What we want you to do is allocate it so that it will be available as issues for its use come up,” Bailess explained.

He said he understood the county had set aside $45,000 for advertising with the majority going to the Vicksburg Warren County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Foundation and $5,000 retained under the supervisors’ control for county advertising.

“We’ve got a number of potential uses for it that we are not asking you to agree to today,” Bailess said. “All we want you to do is seriously consider allocating this one mill for this fund so that if we need something … those funds will be there, still subject to your outlay.”

“This is the time to tell us exactly what you have, at least in the short term, planned,” said District 2 Supervisor Michael Mayfield.

Bailess said one of the things being considered is a unified advertising campaign for Vicksburg and Warren County, promoting one image and one theme.

Duffey said Congress is giving grants to communities that may suffer negative impacts from a new round of base closings and realignments that may come from federal officials over the next couple of years. The Alliance has formed a committee to deal with possible impacts in Vicksburg and Warren County. As a result, the committee is applying for such a grant, which could be up to $175,000.

“We would need 10 percent matching funds … we would need money for that,” she said.

She also said there is a statewide Military Communities Council. The City of Vicksburg has been paying all of the dues for the past couple of years. The county promotion money could also be used to pay a share of that or about $7,500 for the next year.

Margaret Gilmer, a member of the Alliance board of trustees, said another use for the county’s promotion money could be to help research and assemble information on worker and visitor profiles for use in packets that would be given to business and industrial prospects interested in the community.

Supervisors told the Alliance delegation that allocating a mill of taxation would be difficult, given the tight financial situation.

“We are going to have to raise taxes to pay for the mandated raises,” said District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, indicating the raises for a long list of elected officials ordered by the 2004 session of the Mississippi Legislature.

With that tax hike already probable, he said a mill for Alliance promotion would push the overall tax hike above the 10 percent cap under state law.

“I don’t think we can put a mill on without going over the cap,” McDonald said.