Picayune City Council approves motion to lower tax levy

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2016

PROPOSAL: City Clerk Amber Hinton presents a budget with a lower tax levy during a public hearing held Tuesday. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

PROPOSAL: City Clerk Amber Hinton presents a budget with a lower tax levy during a public hearing held Tuesday.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

While other governmental entities in Pearl River County are considering collecting more in taxes due to the recent increase in property assessments, Picayune’s City Council approved a motion to lower their millage rate.
Tuesday the Council held a public hearing concerning the city’s tax levy, which City Clerk Amber Hinton presented with a decrease of 2.05 mills. That would keep the city’s budget essentially the same as the previous fiscal year and bring the rate to 36.61.
Hinton said she budgeted the city to receive about $4.7 million in sales taxes in the coming fiscal year, a $250,000 increase from the previous year.
The city also intends to spend about $5.3 million in capital outlay projects, the biggest of which will entail work at Crosby Commons and fixes to Highland Parkway.
The matter did not pass without some resistance, however. Councilor Larry Breland was the only member of the Council to vocally disagree with lowering the millage, stating that city employees such as police officers, firefighters and public works personnel all need a raise. He said many of those employees have to work second jobs to make ends meet and if the city did not do something, then the city could see several employees leave for higher pay.
“You get what you pay for,” Breeland said. “You can’t have Cadillac quality in a Volkswagen.”
Mayor Ed Pinero agreed that city employees need a raise, but disagreed that the city should increase their budget. Pinero expressed concern that if taxes continue to rise, then the city could see a decrease in population as people seek cheaper places to live, including city employees.
Hinton said if the city opted to leave the millage where it was last year, the increase in assessments would generate an extra $180,000.
Tuesday’s meeting was lightly attended.
“Nobody shows up for the reduction in taxes,” Pinero said.
The only citizen to share their opinion on the matter was Fr. Jonathan Filkins. He confirmed that several police officers have second jobs, and suggested the city take that approach to increasing their budget by focusing on economic development.
“We need to go out and find that second job to make that $180,000 look like chump change,” Filkins said.
After closing the public hearing, the Council approved a motion to set the tax levy at Hinton’s suggested rate. Breland and Councilor Lynn Bogan Bumpers were the only two members to oppose the motion.
In a separate matter, the Council approved a motion to award the contract to repair Highland Parkway to Huey P. Stockstill LLC for the amount of $468,446.
The Council also approved a motion to establish the Picayune Separate Municipal School District’s tax levy, which requested a $150,000 increase from the year prior.
The next Council meeting will be Sept. 6 at 5 p.m. in the Council chambers of City Hall.

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