After election, it is now time to wait and see how new board will do

Published 1:12 pm Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The votes are in, the ballots counted, and the voters have spoken.

But amid the jubilation of the victors and the hand-wringing and second-guessing of the defeated candidates is the realization that four new supervisors will sit down Jan. 6 and begin the task of operating county government.

District 2 Supervisor William Banks was the only incumbent to remain on the board, and his role with the new board could be crucial to its success. Hopefully, he will serve as a mentor to the newcomers as they make their way through the maze of learning how county government operates.

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When a totally new, or almost new, board of supervisors takes office, people expect to see an immediate change in attitude and performance. That’s a natural reaction. That’s why the new supervisors are in office; the majority of the people were tired of what they saw as business as usual and wanted a change. They wanted to see their board be more interactive with city government, with the school district and the other boards and agencies that help set policy and help direct economic development.

While some of that change may be immediate, the voters may have to wait before they see the new board fully take charge, because these new supervisors will have to learn their new jobs.

The interesting thing about government at the county and city levels is that most of their operations are directed by state law, which spells out how and where local officials can spend money, require keeping a balanced budget and sets certain procedures for appointments and contracts. And unlike the city, which receives revenue from property and sales taxes, the county board will have one main source of revenue to rely on — property taxes, which can fluctuate from year to year.

This new board will have to determine if they want to keep existing contracts or hire new companies and individuals to fill the posts of county engineer, board attorney or county administrator. They will have to learn to stretch dollars to pave roads and repair bridges and deal with a recreation department that has in the past had to ask supervisors for emergency funding to stay in the black.

Their predecessors managed to keep the county in the black and maintained the status quo. But the apparent desire of some members to stay in the background on issues like economic development, had some people wondering if county government was really interested in moving Warren County forward.

Obviously, the board was prohibited from doing some things by state law, but there were other steps it could have taken to show more leadership in education and economic development.

The majority of this new board has shown an attitude that they want to get more involved in a leadership role, and they have the talent and experience to do so.

The next four years will be interesting, and the voters will be watching to see how their new board performs.

John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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