In a special budget workshop Friday morning, the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors discussed potential changes for the upcoming fiscal year.

Another meeting will be held at the end of next week to discuss salaries and payroll in regards to the county's budget. Friday's meeting was purely focused on travel, contractual, commodities and equipment costs.

In total, the changes proposed in the budget from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020 added just under $1 million in costs at $927,764. However, nearly all of the increased spending came from countywide road and bridges improvements, which are projected to cost $809,650 more than last year.

Increased spending on these projects represent a continued effort by supervisors to update and maintain the county's sometimes crumbling infrastructure.

The largest budget request increase outside of the roads and bridges projects came from the Oktibbeha County Emergency Management Agency. The agency asked for an additional $23,500, a 54.4% increase from its previous budget of $43,200.

EMA Director Kristen Campanella explained the bulk of the cost was for training and travel expenses, which are necessary as many in the agency are required to renew their certifications every few years.

District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller was quick to praise Campanella for her work with the county's EMA, noting other counties' agencies had asked for Campanella's guidance due to her knowledge and extensive training.

Miller said she trusted Campanella's judgement and urged Supervisors to approve the budget request in the future when the Board votes on the new budget.

A sum of $18,650 was requested by election personnel, with most of it, $12,000 approximately, going toward increasing the fees of contracted poll workers.

Supervisors unanimously agreed those who worked at the polls during elections deserved to earn more for their work.

A small increase of $3,750 for the county's coroner's office was requested due to a forced increase by legislation for the investigation of deaths performed by the coroner and deputies. The change will see the fee jump from $125 per investigation to $175.

Statute will also require the coroner to have at least one deputy with the same credentials as the coroner. Currently, two deputies work with the coroner's office. Previously, Supervisors have treated them as contract workers rather than staff, but the upcoming changes to the law might see those deputies put on payroll after Jan. 1, 2020.

The Oktibbeha County Humane Society also requested a budget increase of $15,000 to bring their total budget for next year to $40,000.

While Supervisors unanimously agreed the Humane Society was doing good work, they did not feel comfortable with such a large increase and opted instead to raise the allotted budget for the department to $30,000.

All budget discussion as of now is preliminary. Supervisors will vote on the final 2019-2020 budget in the upcoming weeks.

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