DeSoto County Board of Supervisors approved a $325 million budget for fiscal year 2022 that includes no tax increases for the 18th year in a row, and over $66 million for road projects.
The county kept its millage rate at 41.02 mils out of a total county-wide millage rate of 97.98, which includes 59.96 mils for DeSoto County School operations.
“We are blessed,” said District 2 Supervisor and board chairman Mark Gardner. “I don’t think there are many counties in Mississippi that can say they haven’t had a millage increase in 18 years.”
County Administrator Vanessa Lynchard pointed out that the county won’t spend all $325 million of that this year because many of the projects are ongoing, but added that the budget includes $216 million in expenditures for projects that are fully funded.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Lynchard said. “And neither is managing county government.”
Lynchard praised the board for its solid fiscal management, listening to the needs of the people, and for building strong relationships with state and federal officials that has allowed the county to take advantage of funding opportunities that become available.
She said board members scrutinize every budget request carefully, ask questions, and make sure that every expenditure is legal.
“Together these five members represent 61 years of experience in county government,” Lynchard said.
Lynchard said that experience has produced results for the residents of DeSoto County, and pointed to a wide range of accomplishments ranging from upgrades to county parks, $18 million for improvements to county buildings, to numerous road projects.
Among the road projects included in the FY’22 budget are Holly Springs Road, Nail Road, Swinnea Road, Craft Road Phase II, Getwell Road (Lester Road to Pleasant Hill), Star Landing Road (Tulane to Getwell), Commerce Street (Jaybird Road), McIngvale Road to Byhalia Road, Armory Road, Center Hill turn lane, and Landers Center overlay.
“That’s over $66 million in this budget for road projects funded without a tax increase,” Lynchard said.
The board was also able to secure funding from state and federal sources for the National Guard Armory, flood risk feasibility study, Holly Springs Road, McInvale interchange, animal shelter road improvements, and assistance from Mississippi Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organization for Getwell Road and Pleasant Hill Road signalization, Commerce Street extension, Lewisburg sidewalk project, and Johnson Creek Greenway Phase II.
“These projects take years and years to come to fruition,” Lynchard “Y’all don’t give up. You don’t get tired of it. When you can get the federal and state government to work together, you have done something.”
Lynchard also pointed out that in FY’21, the board granted 19 Freeport warehouse incentives, 9 real property incentives, and 11 personal property incentives to businesses, which resulted in DeSoto County having the second lowest unemployment rate in Mississippi at 5.3 percent. Over 90,000 people out of a labor force of 95,000 are employed, also the second highest rate in the state.
Lynchard said the board has worked hard to create an atmosphere where families can live, work, and play.
“The DeSoto County Board of Supervisors understands that a diversified economy reduces the burden on taxpayers,” Lynchard said.
That strong leadership, she said, has helped make DeSoto County the third highest in the state for motor vehicle registrations, second highest for homestead exemption applications, third in individual income taxpayers filed, seventh in corporate income taxes filed, first in personal property (auto) assessments, first in assessments for personal property total value, and second for assessment of real property total value.
District 3 Supervisor Ray Denison commended Lynchard, all of the department heads, and county staff for their professionalism putting the budget together.
“It takes a village,” Denison said. “And there is a village and an army here that works very hard and is very dedicated to the citizens of this county. So thank you for this. Y’all do a great job and I am just proud to be a part of it.”
District 4 Supervisor Lee Caldwell said although the county is growing fast, the board and county staff does an excellent job to put the needs of the people first.
“The great thing about this county is, we are a huge growing county, but we are a small county feel as far as caring for our people,” Caldwell said. “We work really, really hard for our citizens. And we do have a wonderful staff. They take the responsibility. They care about our citizens. That’s what we are here for.”
District 5 Supervisor Mike Lee said the decisions made by officials have resulted in DeSoto County having the best roads, the best public schools, and an excellent quality of life, which is why people want to move here.
“You can’t blame people for wanting to come to DeSoto County.”