County’s George says new jail three to five years away?

Published 10:02 am Friday, July 1, 2016

Warren County Board of Supervisors president Richard George visited the weekly Lions Club meeting Wednesday at Toney’s Restaurant.

Lions members questioned George on the status of a new jail. He said the board has been hesitant in years past because they did not want the county to go into debt in order to pay to construct and operate a new facility.

“We try to measure our expenditures with our plans and let growth ease the pain of a tax increase to accomplish that,” George said. “We would hope in three to five years we should be well into the construction of a facility large enough to meet our needs.”

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At that point, he said, the interest rate is favorable and the board knows the cost and time it will take to have the facility built. Strong property roll values are the main factor in the possibility of a new jail.

“If our roll values reveal strength and promise, we’ll prepare to move,” George said. “But we still must balance the priority of needs to take that step.”

George said those numbers will be presented to the board Tuesday, and he won’t know the specific numbers until the information has been reviewed, which could take a couple weeks.

“At that point the citizens have the opportunity to review the rolls and question any values they think may be out of line,” George said.

George gave insight into the process the board of supervisors goes through when creating a budget, which is based on how much money is currently available and how much money can they afford to make available.

“It determines how much we advance and the rate at which we advance,” he said.

He said the board has seen good results based on the process, but he always wishes for better and prepares for better.

It is a balance, he said, of discipline, thought and determination.

“We’re faced with times of some prosperity, not what we’d like to see, but better than what we have seen,” he said. “We’re aware that we must stay in position to take advantage of what opportunities may be before us.”

The number one item on his list to fund is education. He said education should be an option for everyone and every effort should be put in place to provide that education because it is a necessity.

“For their well-being and the community’s well-being,” George said.

Funding for education is made by requests from the school board to the board of supervisors. He said it costs to provide these opportunities to students and it is the school system’s responsibility to guide the students as much as possible.

“This community has chosen to provide the support necessary to offer that,” George said. “That’s about as strong as it can be.”

The second most important program to fund, he said, is public safety, including the jail and courts. Of the tax revenue the county collects, 73 percent goes to education or the penal system, he said. His hope is that increased education funding will decrease the need for more punitive funding.

“Oddly enough the two rival one another,” George said. “It’s a shame but it happens.”

The meeting began with coach Alonzo Stevens speaking about his work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the impact the organization has had over the years. Stevens is the West Central Mississippi area volunteer for Warren, Adams, Jefferson and Claiborne counties.

‘The FCA vision is to see the world impacted by Jesus Christ,” Stevens said.