Mississippi County Cuts $1.5 Million, Triggers Layoffs

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 12:00 am  

The Finance Committee of the Mississippi County Quorum Court slashed $1.5 million from the county’s 2013 budget, which will trigger layoffs of about a dozen employees.

Finance Committee Chairman Michael White said nearly all of the elected officials saw their budgets cut 16.3 percent as a result of decreased revenue for the county.

The departments that took the biggest hits were the county’s landfill department, which will have its budget cut by more than $600,000, and the Mississippi County Sheriff’s Office, which will have $553,000 less in 2013 than it did in 2012, White said.

Mississippi County’s general fund budget in 2013 will be $9.75 million.

White said he wasn’t sure how many county employees would lose their jobs. He said the county first would eliminate open positions. The county has about 200 employees.

The county found itself in the financial mess because “we’ve had a couple of catastrophic things happen to us,” White said.

In 2009, Ameris Health Systems of Nashville, Tenn., stopped operating the county’s two hospitals. The move left the county “in terrible financial condition, virtually bankrupt,” he said.

The county pumped $5 million from its reserves into the hospitals in 2010 to prevent them from closing, he said. But the transfer of money drained the county’s reserves, he said. “So we ended up without any fallback monies,” he said.

And Mississippi County is in a fight with the city of Blytheville over jail fees involving municipal prisoners who are arrested by Blytheville Police Department and then housed at the county jail.

White said the city owed the county more than $800,000 in fees for housing its prisoners. He said the city wasn’t doing anything about it. Blytheville Mayor James Sanders declined to comment on the issue because a lawsuit between the county and the city over the dispute is pending.



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