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Picayune proposes balanced budget with no tax increases

Picayune’s city council held a budget hearing concerning their spending in the coming year.

The budget was proposed with no tax increases, but would entail staff cuts in certain departments. Council member Larry Breland said the cuts would include two positions in the grounds and streets departments.

City Clerk Amber Hinton presented the budget during the hearing, saying due to declines in tax revenue and court fines, the budget was hard hit so the cuts to staff and services is required without a tax increase.

Mayor Ed Pinero said the cuts mentioned by council member Larry Breland would be achieved through attrition.

However, Breland expressed issue with the cuts due to the fact more work would be put on fewer city employees.

Senior Center Director Darlene Adams asked if the same amount of funds would be dedicated to the facility’s operation. Hinton said the senior center would receive the same $14,280 it received the year before.

Another resident asked if utility rates would go up, to which Hinton said a rate survey has been completed but a separate public hearing would be held concerning that topic.

City resident Michael Fitzwilliam asked why, according to his calculations on the figures provided, the budget appeared to be off by about $6 million. Hinton said it could be due to a typo and she would check into it and get back to him.

The total amount budgeted to the general fund for the coming fiscal year will be $8.5 million, but revenue is expected to decrease by $500,000 due to the completion of projects, Hinton said.

City millage will remain the same, at 38.66 mills, but millage to the school district will increase by .43 mills.

It was mentioned during the meeting that the city does not have enough funds to conduct property cleanups when residents decline to do so. In instances where the city is forced to clean a property, the cost of the work is assessed to the owner’s taxes. The city is not reimbursed until the taxes are paid, or the property is sold at tax sale.

This past year, Hinton estimates the city has put in more than $20,000, but received about $10,000 back. She said it won’t be until October when the city will be able to resume property cleanups. 

The budget hearing closed and the council resumed the rest of the agenda. Council members will consider approving the next year’s budget at their Sept. 2 meeting, Hinton said. 

A new name has been given to the city’s green space on Goodyear Boulevard, it will now be called Crosby Commons.

Planning and Zoning Director Diane Miller said she received several suggestions from the community on what the green space should be named, including Crosby Green Space, Crosby Park, Pioneer Park, Veteran’s Park and Goodyear Community Park. Council member Wayne Gouguet made a motion to use Crosby Commons, which was approved unanimously.

The city also went over several other topics during Tuesday’s meeting, including an amendment to a city ordinance allowing the sale of beer at Crosby Commons during special events and whether to deny Tyron Gill’s Top Flight Aviation as a fixed base operator at the city’s airport. Those matters will be covered in a follow-up story.