LAUREL, MISS. - Jones County Sheriff, Alex Hodge made an $8.3 million budget proposal to the Jones County Board of Supervisors for the next fiscal year, Monday morning.
“That includes all of our medical, housing, food, and operations will be included in the 8.3 million dollar budget,” Hodge explained. “It does not add any admin positions. All it does is put deputy sheriffs and correctional officers on the ground.”
In a separate proposal, the sheriff mentioned putting a deputy sheriff at all 12 schools in the county.
“We purposed about 1.3 million dollars to do that, which includes setting up new equipment, uniforms, cars, and the whole nine yards.” Hodge further explained. “I'm saying that we can realistically cut that down to about $700,000 annually.”
The board says if they approve both of the sheriff's proposals, it could cost the county a little more than $10 million.
“He's asked for $8.6 million for the upcoming year,” Jones County Chief Financial Officer, Charles Miller said. “Plus other nine-hundred-forty-thousand dollars proposed for court security and another 1.3 million to provide security to the schools. So, that would be a grand 10.8 million if everything was fully funded that he requested.”
A budget the county does not know if they can provide.
“We would have to raise over ten mills of taxes,” Miller said. “Currently we are capped by state law at ten percent, which could only raise about 3.5 mills.”
Sheriff Hodge says he stands against raising the county’s taxes, but he encourages the board to make other cuts.
“They are going to have to make other cuts,” Hodge said. “I'm not saying they have some big pond of money out there that is unallocated, but it is going to take some guts, grit, and courage to be able to make the right decisions.”
The board of supervisors plan to publish the results of the budget hearing on Sept. 15, and residents will receive a chance to vote on the changes.