City may hike taxes for pay raises
A proposed 1-mill city tax increase to fund an $11 million 2022 budget including pay raises was proposed at a public hearing Wednesday no one attended.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen will vote on a final budget Tuesday.
City leaders have budgeted 20 mills this fiscal year, which is a 1-mill increase when compared to the current fiscal year budget. That means ad valorem taxes could increase.
A mill is $1 per $1,000 of assessed property value and one mill raises approximately $80,000 in Philadelphia, officials said.
The mayor and aldermen have been working on the budget since early August. The proposed budget projecting $10,960,350 in total revenue. Of that, $1,530,000 will come from ad valorem taxes, an increase of $366,800 when compared to the current budget.
Sales tax collections make up most of the revenue.
Mayor James A. Young said much of the extra money will go to pay for a $1.25 an hour pay increase for all city employees. He defended the raises, saying people don’t realize the value of the work it takes to keep the city running.
“People don’t appreciate it until it isn’t there,” Young said. “It is one of those unsung services that we brush off until that garbage can is no emptied. They may complain about everything, but let these guys not produce for a week and we will have total chaos.”
Not everyone agreed with raising taxes because they said growth will likely fund the raises. Ward 2 Aldermen Jim Fulton and Alderman-at-Large James Waltman voted against the final version of the proposed budget.
Fulton said Tuesday that with the likelihood of record-high sales tax collections he just doesn’t think a tax increase is necessary.
In other action, aldermen voted to:
• Place $130,000 the city received for the sale of a Wells Lamont outlying building to Viking Metals into a CD with the best rate.
• Approve the minutes of the past meeting and the claims docket.
• Approve a resolution to apply for a CDBG grant to help with the Booker T. Washington Gym project. The grant would help pay for handicapped restrooms and accessibility.
• Approve a road bore by C Spire along Holland Avenue and Dallas Street.
• Approve the hiring of Head Auction to auction off seized and abandon firearms that are being kept at the PD.
• Approve the hiring of K-9 officer for the PD.
• Approve the purchase of a new tornado siren to be located in the Westside area.
Aldermen discussed the purchase of a van to transport city prisoners to the Winston County jail.
Aldermen also heard from Roy White who discussed the condition of Parkside Drive, an area that was annexed into the city in 2004 and has never received city services.
The former alderman called Parkside “the last dirt road in Mississippi.”
They voted to approve amendments to the current fiscal year budget. For the Police Department, they increased the supplies account by $16,000, the contingencies account by $16,000, and the capital outlay account by $17,000.
The municipal courts increased the state fines account by $50,000. The Sanitation Department increased its capital outlay account by $3,500. And the Fire Department increased its capital outlay account by $32,000.