4 in race for county supervisor in District 5

Published 11:53 am Friday, October 28, 2011

Four candidates are seeking to represent District 5 on the Warren County Board of Supervisors. All independents, they are J.W. Carroll, 64; incumbent Richard George, 62; Ellis Tillotson, 56; and Joe Wooley, 68.

Wooley did not return the questionnaire.

1. What is the best course of action Warren County can take in the next four years to build a modernized jail and justice system facility?

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Carroll: Remodel the existing jail and finish the third floor. The third floor has enough room for over 100 prisoners. Buy the lot next door for adding on. Remodeling will cut down on spending. This county is almost in a depression.

George: In view of the uncertain future in the overall economy, the construction, staffing and operation of the detention facility recommended in the Voorhis/Robertson Justice Services Inc. planning reports is unlikely to be completed in the next four years. While the construction can be financed through the issuance of general obligation bonds, funds to cover the additional staffing and operations costs of such a facility must come from the county’s general fund. Now is not the time to begin raising taxes in amounts sufficient to cover both debt service and significant additional operations costs.

Tillotson: We must first define the root problems within the existing judicial system by discussing with the judges and prosecutors changes to better facilitate moving prisoners through the system. For instance, additional prosecutors and more courtroom space in the courthouse could lead to more efficiency. With additional courtroom space and prosecutors we would move detainees through the system and those found guilty turned over to the state prison system, reducing the number of prisoners in our jail. Raising taxes is not an option to operate and build a new jail. Privatization is another option that needs to be considered.

2. If you had to write a comprehensive plan for residential and commercial development in Warren County, what would it say?

Carroll: Any contractor working in Warren County, whether it be residential or commercial, needs to have a license and the county needs inspectors for all trades to verify that the construction is done correctly.

George: A comprehensive plan should have four elements in order to be effective. These elements are long-range goals, a land-use plan, a transportation plan and a public-facilities plan.

• Long-range goals prepare for residential, commercial and industrial development.

• Land-use plan proposes review of projected population and economic growth to formulate a guide for proper planning of future private development projects.

• A transportation plan would identify and classify all existing or proposed roadways throughout the county.

• A public facilities plan would address future needs in parks and recreation, public buildings and drainage basin improvements.

Tillotson: An effective long-term plan is the end result of a comprehensive review process. To be beneficial and develop a workable comprehensive plan you first include all of the county, city and community leadership in the process. Many other communities and counties have a record of success in recruiting new business and industries. Additional research of successful communities in order to arrive at a plan that is best for our community should be conducted. It will take all of us working together to improve our hometown and therefore our plan should be reflective in what is best for all the citizens.

3. What criteria do you/would you use in voting for tax breaks or other inducements for new or expanding employers?

Carroll: To help all unemployed citizens to be re-employed.

George: Most business operations have varied needs regarding numbers of employees, equipment, utility consumption and transportation. I believe one must carefully review all the aspects of each exemption request and decide if an exemption is necessary and warranted for the economic stability and growth of this community.

Tillotson: When considering tax breaks and inducements, the following criteria should be initially considered: Business Plan, Product/service offered and company historical information, benefit vs. cost to the county, number of new jobs — construction and permanent, revenue for local suppliers and vendors. Depending on the magnitude of the venture, further clarifications and information may need to be obtained. Most businesses that receive tax breaks and inducements are from outside our area. I think we should explore the idea of incentives and/or inducements for locals who start or expand businesses and who also meet certain criteria.

4. What is the best use of the old U.S. 80 bridge to remain a viable county-owned asset?

Carroll: Reopen it for traffic to drive back and forth. The citizens of Louisiana wouldn’t have to drive four times farther to come shopping in Vicksburg or for medical treatment. Put up a gate to close traffic when trains have to cross. That way, when the I-20 bridge is closed, people would not have to go to Natchez or Greenville to cross the river.

George: Considering the age and condition of the U.S. 80 bridge, the future appears to present a very expensive maintenance project. Due to the lease with the railroad, the rail revenue covers the cost of maintaining the structure in a presentable and functional condition. The county taxpayer receives no revenue from the bridge, nor do they incur any expense from the bridge.

Tillotson: The U.S. 80 bridge is a viable asset to the railroad, but not necessarily to Warren County. Under the current lease agreement with the railroad, the county virtually receives no income and our citizens have very limited use of the bridge. Based on information as I know it, the railroad essentially pays for maintenance of the bridge. In order for our county to have a viable asset, the current railroad lease agreement should be renegotiated whereby the county actually receives residual income. Other options would include a sale of the bridge.

5. Why do you seek the office of county supervisor?

Carroll: To stop raising taxes and stop spending money that is not beneficial to the taxpayers.

I will be a full-time supervisor and work to serve the citizens any and every way a supervisor should.

George: I have enjoyed serving the public during my four terms of office. I believe the citizens are entitled to an official who has proved his willingness to devote the time and effort necessary to deliver prompt, accurate and courteous responses to their concerns, and, also, one who will be on duty and actively monitor county governmental operations.

Tillotson: The biggest reason for my decision to run for supervisor is I believe our community has the things it takes to be successful. Our county offers excellent industrial transportation: river, interstate highway and rail. Even still, over the last 10 years we have lost citizens, jobs and tax base, while during this same period of time, Northeast and East Central Mississippi continue to grow, adding jobs and tax base. My hope is to ensure a future for our children and grandchildren.