Supervisors debate use of general fund for advertising

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Using Lamar County’s General Fund to pay for “advertising county resources” prompted a heated discussion among Supervisors earlier this week when the board balked at spending $5,000 for the opening day of Peewee Football in Sumrall on Saturday.

During Tuesday’s meeting at the William J. “Pete” Gamble III Chancery Courthouse in Purvis, District 5 Supervisor Dale Lucus – whose district includes Sumrall – said the event involves teams from all over the county. However, with efforts to curtail General Fund spending for sporting events, Lucus received approval to spend $3,000 from his district’s Park and Rec funds.

In his initial motion to the board, Lucus sought the $3,000 donation and a requirement that no more county advertising would come from the General Fund. That motion died for lack of a second.

The meeting also became heated when supervisors discovered that Board President Joe Bounds had asked that the Peewee Football request not be placed on the agenda so that the board could discuss the situation. Lucus presented the request to the board after the meeting agenda was complete.

Lucus said the event involved all the teams from Lamar County.

“This is the whole countywide youth system,” he said. “They change (the location) from year to year, just like the jamboree. It was at Oak Grove last year. Every year, the sites will rotate.”

Bounds said if the event is countywide, the funds should probably come from the General Fund.

“We also need to look at cutting back on some of this advertising county resources out of the General Fund,” he said. “We look at the amount of some of them. Some of them are getting out of hand when we spend a lot of money out of the General Fund. … I think we need to give some serious consideration to a lot of these different deals on the amounts.”

District 4 Supervisor Phillip Carlisle and George Byrd of District 2 agreed.

“Way too much is being spent,” Byrd said. “We want to support the youth and the youth programs, but this thing is getting out of control. … We talked about going back to the Parks  & Rec (funds) from supervisors on this type of deal, these sports events. That’s what it’s designed for.”

Bounds said the requests need to be considered diligently.

“We are getting more and more (requests),” he said. “We’re getting more teams out there. Every school is looking at it; if you do it at one place, you have to do it at every place. It’s something that we need to take a very hard look at.”

At this point, Lucus said he would provide $3.000 for the Peewee Football opening day from his Park & Rec account and called for no more advertising out of the General Fund for any sports event.

 “If we are going to fuss over $5,000 for kids and spend so much money, it has gotten pathetic,” he said. “The ball is in your court. This is just what you just said; you said you are going to do it out of Park & Rec, or you’re not. Now the ball is on the floor; pick it up and move it or leave it where it’s at.”

Other supervisors said they preferred to decide the issue at a later date.

“I don’t think it’s wise to make that decision right here,” Carlisle said. “I think if you want to take this out of your Park & Rec, do it. I think the other deserves more discussion and consideration.”

“The whole conversation and the hype and the attitude is got something we’ve been talking about: this General Fund, about giving this money from the General Fund, which is the taxpayers’ money that we collect,” Byrd said. “You brought the deal up about Peewee Football; I’d like to support the kids. We need to decide how to do this. So if you want to take action at this time, I don’t think we’re prepared to do that.”

Lucus questioned the supervisors’ fairness in deciding not to fully fund the event.

“It happens to be in Sumrall and it’s a big discussion,” he said, adding that he brought up the fund request because it was left off the agenda. “Next year, when we come back here and it goes to Purvis or Oak Grove and we’re going to pay for it out of the General Fund, do you think that’s fair? I don’t.”

Bounds said County Administrator Joseph “Jodie” Waits received the funding request.

“I told him to don’t put it on the agenda until we discuss it and see what we are all going to do, how we are going to pay for this and out of which fund,” Bounds said.

Lucus insisted that the Peewee Football opening day would receive some funding.

“Are we going to pay for it or are we going to let them have no money this year?” he asked. “That’s what it’s coming down to. Before I let them get no money, I’ll pay it out of my account. It was not put on the agenda as it has been in the past; it was not put on the agenda. It was told to hold off the agenda. I’m not going to let those kids not get any money this year because it was not being done.”

Supervisors then discussed where the money would be used by the football teams and how they should be more accountable. Carlisle said he receives a profit/loss statement from the Oak Grove football officials.

“I think we should get those from all of the teams,” he said. “I’d love to trust everybody.”

The donation is not accounted for, Bounds said.

“Where is this money going?” he asked. “It’s play money.”