2005 Regular Session
To: County Affairs
By: Representative Mims
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 19-5-313 AND 33-15-17, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE USE OF EXCESS EMERGENCY TELEPHONE SERVICE CHARGES TO PURCHASE OUTDOOR WARNING SIRENS; TO AMEND SECTION 19-3-41, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 19-5-313, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
19-5-313. (1) The board of supervisors may levy an emergency telephone service charge in an amount not to exceed One Dollar ($1.00) per residential telephone subscriber line per month and Two Dollars ($2.00) per commercial telephone subscriber line per month for exchange telephone service. Any emergency telephone service charge shall have uniform application and shall be imposed throughout the entirety of the district to the greatest extent possible in conformity with availability of such service in any area of the district. Those districts which exist on the date of enactment of Chapter 539, Laws of 1993, shall convert to the following structure for service charge levy: If the current charge is five percent (5%) of the basic tariff service rate, the new collection shall be Eighty Cents ($.80) per month per residential subscriber line and One Dollar and Sixty Cents ($1.60) per month per commercial subscriber line. The collections may be adjusted as outlined in Chapter 539, Laws of 1993, and within the limits set forth herein.
(2) If the proceeds generated by the emergency telephone service charge exceed the amount of monies necessary to fund the service, the board of supervisors may authorize such excess funds to be expended by the county and the municipalities in the counties to perform the duties and pay the costs relating to identifying roads, highways and streets, as provided by Section 65-7-143, or to purchase outdoor warning sirens for emergency management or civil defense, as provided in Section 33-15-17. The board of supervisors shall determine how the funds are to be distributed in the county and among municipalities in the county for paying the costs relating to identifying roads, highways and streets or for purchasing outdoor warning sirens for emergency management or civil defense. The board of supervisors may temporarily reduce the service charge rate or temporarily suspend the service charge if the proceeds generated exceed the amount that is necessary to fund the service and/or to pay costs relating to identifying roads, highways and streets or to purchase outdoor warning sirens for emergency management or civil defense. Such excess funds may also be used in the development of county or district communications and paging systems when used primarily for the alerting and dispatching of public safety entities and for other administrative costs such as management personnel, maintenance personnel and related building and operational requirements. Such excess funds may be placed in a depreciation fund for emergency and obsolescence replacement of equipment necessary for the operation of the overall 911 emergency telephone and alerting systems.
(3) No such service charge shall be imposed upon more than twenty-five (25) exchange access facilities per person per location. Trunks or service lines used to supply service to CMRS providers shall not have a service charge levied against them. Every billed service user shall be liable for any service charge imposed under this section until it has been paid to the service supplier. The duty of the service supplier to collect any such service charge shall commence upon the date of its implementation, which shall be specified in the resolution for the installation of such service. Any such emergency telephone service charge shall be added to and may be stated separately in the billing by the service supplier to the service user.
(4) The service supplier shall have no obligation to take any legal action to enforce the collection of any emergency telephone service charge. However, the service supplier shall annually provide the board of supervisors and board of commissioners with a list of the amount uncollected, together with the names and addresses of those service users who carry a balance that can be determined by the service supplier to be nonpayment of such service charge. The service charge shall be collected at the same time as the tariff rate in accordance with the regular billing practice of the service supplier. Good faith compliance by the service supplier with this provision shall constitute a complete defense to any legal action or claim which may result from the service supplier's determination of nonpayment and/or the identification of service users in connection therewith.
(5) The amounts collected by the service supplier attributable to any emergency telephone service charge shall be due the county treasury monthly. The amount of service charge collected each month by the service supplier shall be remitted to the county no later than sixty (60) days after the close of the month. A return, in such form as the board of supervisors and the service supplier agree upon, shall be filed with the county, together with a remittance of the amount of service charge collected payable to the county. The service supplier shall maintain records of the amount of service charge collected for a period of at least two (2) years from date of collection. The board of supervisors and board of commissioners shall receive an annual audit of the service supplier's books and records with respect to the collection and remittance of the service charge. From the gross receipts to be remitted to the county, the service supplier shall be entitled to retain as an administrative fee, an amount equal to one percent (1%) thereof. From and after March 10, 1987, the service charge is a county fee and is not subject to any sales, use, franchise, income, excise or any other tax, fee or assessment and shall not be considered revenue of the service supplier for any purpose.
(6) In order to provide additional funding for the district, the board of commissioners may receive federal, state, county or municipal funds, as well as funds from private sources, and may expend such funds for the purposes of Section 19-5-301 et seq.
SECTION 2. Section 33-15-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
33-15-17. (a) Each county and municipality, or counties and the municipalities therein acting jointly, or two (2) or more counties acting jointly, of this state are hereby authorized and directed to establish a local organization for emergency management in accordance with the state emergency management plan and program, if required and authorized so to do by such state emergency management plan. Each local organization for emergency management shall have a director who shall be appointed by the governing body of the political subdivision, or political subdivisions acting jointly, and who shall have direct responsibility for the organization, administration and operation of such local organization for emergency management, subject to the direction and control of such governing body. Each local organization for emergency management shall perform emergency management functions within the territorial limits of the political subdivision within which it is organized, and, in addition, shall conduct such functions outside of such territorial limits as may be required pursuant to the provisions of the state emergency management plan. Each county shall develop an emergency management plan and program that is coordinated and consistent with the State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and program. Counties that are part of an interjurisdictional emergency management agreement entered into pursuant to this section shall cooperatively develop an emergency management plan and program that is coordinated and consistent with the state emergency management plan and program.
(b) In carrying out the provisions of this article each county and municipality, or the two (2) acting jointly, or two (2) or more counties acting jointly, where there is joint organization, in which any disaster as described in Section 33-15-3 occurs, shall have the power to enter into contracts and incur obligations necessary to combat such disaster, protecting the health and safety of persons and property, and providing emergency assistance to the victims of such disaster. Each county and municipality is authorized to exercise the powers vested under this section in the light of the exigencies of the extreme emergency situation without regard to time-consuming procedures and formalities prescribed by law pertaining to the performance of public work, entering into contracts, the incurring of obligations, the employment of temporary workers, the rental of equipment, the purchase of supplies and materials, the levying of taxes and the appropriation and expenditure of public funds.
(c) Each county and each municipality, or two (2) or more counties acting jointly, shall have the power and authority:
(1) To appropriate and expend funds, make contracts, obtain and distribute equipment, materials, and supplies for emergency management purposes; provide for the health and safety of persons and property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any enemy attack or man-made, technological or natural disasters; and to direct and coordinate the development of emergency management plans and programs in accordance with the policies and plans set by the federal and state emergency management agencies;
(2) To appoint, employ, remove, or provide, with or without compensation, air raid wardens, rescue teams, auxiliary fire and police personnel, and other emergency management workers;
(3) To establish, as necessary, a primary and one or more secondary emergency operating centers to provide continuity of government, and direction and control of emergency operation during an emergency;
(4) Subject to the order of the Governor, or the chief executive of the political subdivision, to assign and make available for duty, the employees, property or equipment of the subdivision relating to fire fighting, engineering, rescue, health, medical and related services, police, transportation, construction, and similar items or services for emergency management purposes either within or outside of the limits of the subdivision;
(5) Subject to the order of the chief executive of the county or municipality or the Governor to order the evacuation of any area subject to an impending or existing enemy attack or man-made, technological or natural disaster;
(6) Subject to the order of the chief executive of the county or municipality or the Governor, to control or restrict egress, ingress and movement within the disaster area to the degree necessary to facilitate the protection of life and property.
(d) A local emergency as defined in Section 33-15-5 may be proclaimed by the governing body of a municipality or county. The governing body shall review the need for continuing the local emergency at least every seven (7) days until such local emergency is terminated, and shall proclaim the termination of such local emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant. During a local emergency, the governing body of a political subdivision may promulgate orders and regulations necessary to provide for the protection of life and property, including orders or regulations imposing a curfew within designated boundaries where necessary to preserve the public order and safety. Such orders and regulations and amendments and rescissions thereof shall be in writing and shall be given widespread notice and publicity. The authorization granted by this section to impose a curfew shall not be construed as restricting in any manner the existing authority to impose a curfew pursuant to police power for any other lawful purpose.
(e) The board of supervisors of any county is authorized to expend excess funds as provided in Section 19-5-313 to purchase outdoor warning sirens for emergency management or civil defense.
SECTION 3. Section 19-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
19-3-41. (1) The boards of supervisors shall have within their respective counties full jurisdiction over roads, ferries and bridges, except as otherwise provided by Section 170 of the Constitution, and all other matters of county police. They shall have jurisdiction over the subject of paupers. They shall have power to levy such taxes as may be necessary to meet the demands of their respective counties, upon such persons and property as are subject to state taxes for the time being, not exceeding the limits that may be prescribed by law. They shall cause to be erected and kept in good repair, in their respective counties, a good and convenient courthouse and a jail. A courthouse shall be erected and kept in good repair in each judicial district and a jail may be erected in each judicial district. They may close a jail in either judicial district, at their discretion, where one (1) jail will suffice. They shall have the power, in their discretion, to prohibit or regulate the sale and use of firecrackers, roman candles, torpedoes, skyrockets, and any and all explosives commonly known and referred to as fireworks, outside the confines of municipalities. They shall have and exercise such further powers as are or shall be conferred upon them by law. They shall have authority to negotiate with and contract with licensed real estate brokers for the purpose of advertising and showing and procuring prospective purchasers for county-owned real property offered for sale in accordance with the provisions of Section 19-7-3.
(2) The board of supervisors of any county, in its discretion, may contract with a private attorney or private collection agent or agency to collect any type of delinquent payment owed to the county including, but not limited to, past due fees and fines, delinquent ad valorem taxes on personal property and delinquent ad valorem taxes on mobile homes that are entered as personal property on the mobile home rolls. Any such contract may provide for payment contingent upon successful collection efforts or payment based upon a percentage of the delinquent amount collected; however, the entire amount of all delinquent payments collected shall be remitted to the county and shall not be reduced by any collection costs or fees. There shall be due to the county from any person whose delinquent payment is collected pursuant to a contract executed under this subsection an amount, in addition to the delinquent payment, of not to exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the delinquent payment for collections made within this state and not to exceed fifty percent (50%) of the delinquent payment for collections made outside of this state. However, in the case of delinquent fees owed to the county for garbage or rubbish collection or disposal, only the amount of the delinquent fees may be collected and no amount in addition to the delinquent fees may be collected if the board of supervisors of the county has notified the county tax collector under Section 19-5-22 for the purpose of prohibiting the issuance of a motor vehicle road and bridge privilege license tag to the person delinquent in the payment of such fees. Any private attorney or private collection agent or agency contracting with the county under the provisions of this subsection shall give bond or other surety payable to the county in such amount as the board of supervisors deems sufficient. Any private attorney with whom the county contracts under the provisions of this subsection must be a member in good standing of The Mississippi Bar. Any private collection agent or agency with whom the county contracts under the provisions of this subsection must meet all licensing requirements for doing business in the State of Mississippi. Neither the county nor any officer or employee of the county shall be liable, civilly or criminally, for any wrongful or unlawful act or omission of any person or business with whom the county has contracted under the provisions of this subsection. The Mississippi Department of Audit shall establish rules and regulations for use by counties in contracting with persons or businesses under the provisions of this subsection.
(3) In addition to the authority granted under subsection (2) of this section, the board of supervisors of any county, in its discretion, may contract with one or more of the constables of the county to collect delinquent criminal fines imposed in the justice court of the county. Any such contract shall provide for payment contingent upon successful collection efforts, and the amount paid to a constable may not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the amount which the constable collects. The entire amount of all delinquent criminal fines collected under such a contract shall be remitted by the constable to the clerk of the justice court for deposit into the county general fund as provided under Section 9-11-19. Any payments made to a constable pursuant to a contract executed under the provisions of this section may be paid only after presentation to and approval by the board of supervisors of the county.
(4) If a county uses its own employees to collect any type of delinquent payment owed to the county, then from and after July 1, 1999, the county may charge an additional fee for collection of the delinquent payment provided the payment has been delinquent for ninety (90) days. The collection fee may not exceed fifteen percent (15%) of the delinquent payment if the collection is made within this state and may not exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of the delinquent payment if the collection is made outside this state. In conducting collection of delinquent payments, the county may utilize credit cards or electronic fund transfers. The county may pay any service fees for the use of such methods of collection from the collection fee, but not from the delinquent payment.
(5) In addition to such authority as is otherwise granted under this section, the board of supervisors of any county may expend funds necessary to maintain and repair, and to purchase liability insurance, tags and decals for, any personal property acquired under the Federal Excess Personal Property Program that is used by the local volunteer fire department.
(6) The board of supervisors of any county, in its discretion, may expend funds to provide for training and education of newly elected or appointed county officials before the beginning of the term of office or employment of such officials. Any expenses incurred for such purposes may be allowed only upon prior approval of the board of supervisors. Any payments or reimbursements made under the provisions of this subsection may be paid only after presentation to and approval by the board of supervisors.
(7) The board of supervisors of any county may expend funds to purchase, maintain and repair equipment for the electronic filing and storage of filings, files, instruments, documents and records using microfilm, microfiche, data processing, magnetic tape, optical discs, computers or other electronic process which correctly and legibly stores and reproduces or which forms a medium for storage, copying or reproducing documents, files and records for use by one (1), all or any combination of county offices, employees and officials, whether appointed or elected. (8) In addition to the authority granted in this section, the board of supervisors of any county may expend funds as provided in Section 29-3-23(2).
(9) The board of supervisors of any county may perform and exercise any duty, responsibility or function, may enter into agreements and contracts, may provide and deliver any services or assistance, and may receive, expend and administer any grants, gifts, matching funds, loans or other monies, in accordance with and as may be authorized by any federal law, rule or regulation creating, establishing or providing for any program, activity or service. The provisions of this paragraph shall not be construed as authorizing any county, the board of supervisors of any county or any member of a board of supervisors to perform any function or activity that is specifically prohibited under the laws of this state or as granting any authority in addition to or in conflict with the provisions of any federal law, rule or regulation.
(10) The board of supervisors of any county may provide funds from any available source to assist in defraying the actual expenses to maintain an office as provided in Section 9-1-36. The authority provided in this subsection shall apply to any office regardless of ownership of such office or who may be making any lease payments for such office.
(11) In addition to the authority granted in this section, the board of supervisors of any county may expend excess funds as provided in Sections 19-5-313 and 33-15-17 to purchase outdoor warning sirens for emergency management or civil defense.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.