City council chooses employees raises over down town support

Published 11:52 pm Saturday, September 16, 2006

The city council approved adoption of Picayune’s budget for 2006-2007, millage rates and a pay raise for employees, but passed on funding for the Picayune Main Street organization.

While Picayune Main Street did submit a letter requesting more money, they missed the budget hearing by a week when they presented their case to the Picayune City Council at its meeting on Friday.

Melinda Vitale, owner of Melinda’s Fine Gifts, asked the city council to help fund the continued growth of downtown Picayune, where things are looking better but could still use improvement.

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“The more business we can get in downtown, the volume of people (we get) from out of town visiting us giving us their tax dollars,” Vitale said. “I hope you will continue to think about us in your budget because we need it. We’re working very hard and there’s only so much we can do. We need you guys and we can’t do it without you.”

So far, the council’s only definite plans are to resurface West Canal Street but there are no plans to fund Picayune Main Street. The meeting Friday was to approve the budget. The hearing for the budget was last week, Councilman Leavern Guy told Vitale.

Consideration was given to a lot of factors, but the council decided that rewarding dedicated employees of the City of Picayune was its priority, he said. City employees did not get a raise last year, Guy said.

“We want to continue to try to keep good employees,” Guy said.

This fiscal year, city employees will receive a seven percent raise and an additional two percent increase to compensate for the rising cost of living, making for a nine percent raise in the new budget, Guy said.

Guy said that the city still will provide contributions in the form of city employees to help with Picayune Main Street projects, but can not guarantee financial contributions this year.

“As far as a (monetary) contribution this year, I just don’t think that’s going to happen, that’s being perfectly honest with you. We appreciate what you do, and it’s something we will certainly consider in the future,” Guy said.

At some point during the year the council will look at the budget again to see if it can help Picayune Main Street, but currently the city council is focusing on rewarding employees with a well deserved raise, Guy said.

Councilman Jerry Bounds said he will support Picayune Main Street and the Chamber of Commerce while he does believe the city employees do deserve a raise. Councilman Larry Watkins said there will be a vote on the matter at a later time. Mayor Greg Mitchell said there are still the unknown factors of the budget to consider, such as how much revenue actually will come in to the city.

In other business the council.

— Approved issuance of manual checks.

— Adopted a millage rate of 25.50 for city of Picayune with two mills to go to the library and 55 mills for the Picayune Municipal Separate School District.

— Adopted tax rolls as prepared and presented by the Hancock County Tax Assessor/Collector.

— Authorized Deputy City Clerk Leann Smith to sign all checks for all checking accounts to temporarily replace the former city clerk.

The Picayune City Council’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the new city council chambers in the old Arizona Chemical building.