Council adopts budget; millage up, less in general budget funds

Published 3:08 pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Millage rates for the city’s budget have gone up a bit, as have the Picayune Separate School District’s.

While the millage rates for the city have been increased the city has projected to spend less out of the general fund. Tuesday during their regular meeting the council approved a 6.37 mill increase, but those funds will pay for the city wide overlay project, set to start sometime in October.

That will mean homeowners with a home valued at $100,000, and have filed for homestead exemption, can expect to pay an additional $63 in ad valorem taxes. That figure is just for city taxes. On the school district’s end the council approved a 3.48 mill increase. That increase could mean an estimated increase of about $34 for a home valued at $100,000 for the school’s part.

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Council member Todd Lane asked City Attorney Nathan Farmer what would happen if the council decided not to approve the school’s millage increase. Farmer said the city is essentially the agent for the State Tax Commission and voting against the increase would not stop it from going through.

Even with the increase in mills, the city will be running off of slightly less money in the general fund. Last year the city projected to spend $8.69 million out of the general fund, which is primarily built up with property and sales taxes. This coming fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1, the city expects to spend $8.61 million.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting the council heard and approved a bid concerning the paving project the increased mills will fund. City Engineer Brooks Wallace said only two bids came in; HSI turned in a bid of $6.35 million, while Warren Paving turned in a bid for $8.55 million. The city approved HSI’s bid.

Wallace said the current plan is to pave all of the city’s roads with about an inch and a quarter of asphalt. If areas are found that need thicker asphalt then the current plan will allow for that.

“I did not want to get to the point to where we could not do something to every road,” Wallace said.

The work is expected to begin early in October and will take a year to complete, Wallace said. He said Beech Street will be one of the last roads paved since HSI will use that road to haul most of the asphalt through the city.

The council also approved some sewer repair work to take place prior to the paving work. The council approved spending $50,000 to conduct the necessary repairs, which will start on streets that will be paved first. Wallace said he has identified about 19 spots in the city that need such work. So far the Utility Authority, which owns the city’s sewer system, has fixed about three of those areas already. The Utility Authority has said in their previous meetings that they did not expect to have the money to fix the sewer system before the paving work was set to begin, leaving the city with a decision, to either foot the bill or build roads on surfaces that could later sink due to faulty sewer lines.

To get an idea of the cost of the sewer repairs the city will conduct about three or four such repairs first to get an idea of the cost involved.

As a piece of good news the city received an audit for fiscal year 2008-2009 with “no findings to speak of,” Daniel said. In addition to the audit coming back clear, the problems found in the previous fiscal year’s audit have been resolved.

The council went into executive session to discuss possible litigation, a personnel matter and economic development. Decisions on those matters were not available by press time.

In other business the council;

— Approved proclaiming Sept. 17 to 23 as Constitution Week.

— Approved a request to reimburse MEMA for $55,316.33 for money paid to the city for repairs to Mississippi Mall that were not completed.

— Approved a travel request from the Picayune Police Department for Chief Jim Luke, Capt. Jeremy Magri and Deputy Chief Bryan Dawsey to attend Homicide training in Tampa, Fla.

The next council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 21.