Forrest County leaders prepare for a tough budget year

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Forrest County Board of Supervisors are crunching numbers for the 2012 fiscal year budget, and just like the rest of the nation, county leaders are about to tighten their belts in anticipation of another tough economic year.

With revenue projections down, the proposed 2012 county budget will be a conservative one said Board President David Hogan. "We've lost about $40 million in assessed value and that equates to more than 2 million dollars less in revenue."

Hogan said that leaves the county no other choice but to make five percent cuts across the board, with the exception of personnel and payroll.

"We are just going to have to tighten our belts and get by with less this year. The values on properties are down, people at home are having to get by with less, and that is what we are going to do with county government too."

The good news for Forrest County residents is, there will not be a tax increase. The millage rate will remain the same as it was in fiscal year 2011.

"The board just didn't feel like they could increase millage at this time with the economy the way it is."

The county will work with approximately $26 million in 2012, six million less than last year. Hogan said the majority of the decrease comes from a federal geothermal grant, which was used to build a new jail and multi-purpose center. The rest will come as a result of the five percent cuts.

"I believe the board is going to move forward with a very conservative approach."

The budget is not set in stone yet,  the county recently voted to advertise a public hearing for residents to voice their opinions and concerns.

That hearing is scheduled for September 6, at 10 a.m.

Once the public hearing happens, county leaders will adopt the 2012 budget.