Council denies leaving millage rate the same, sets public hearing for millage increase

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

During Tuesday’s public hearing, the Picayune City Council unanimously passed a motion to deny leaving the millage rate the same as the last fiscal year.
The public hearing held Tuesday also involved the Council approving a motion to establish the requested tax levy from the Picayune School District, which came in at the same millage rate of last year of 61.82 mills.
Mayor Ed Pinero said the Council is now considering a tax increase, with the aim of providing pay raises to emergency personnel employed by the city of Picayune.
According to a legal notice by the city running in today’s issue of the Picayune Item, the proposal is to increase the millage rate from 36.61 mills to 41.36, which would generate an additional $202,839 in revenue for the general budget compared to last year.
The public hearing for this new budget proposal is set for Sept. 8, at 8 a.m. in the Council chambers at City Hall.
Pinero said the raise would bring the pay of police officers in the city in line with what officers working for surrounding departments earn, such as the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, Poplarville Police Department and Pearl River Community College.
He said there is also the possibility that the Council will consider finding a happy medium between providing a raise for all city employees, or just public safety employees.
Councilor Tammy Valente has expressed concern about the proposal to just provide raises to emergency personnel, saying that she would first have to determine if the benefit package, which includes insurance coverage and being able to take city vehicles home, those employees receive makes up for the difference in hourly pay. She also has concerns that the pay raise is not being proposed to all city employees, especially within the same department, such as secretaries, jailers and record keepers of the police department. Valente feels employees in all departments, such as those in public works, also have dangerous jobs and are due a raise if one is to be provided.
“I just want to do the right thing,” Valente said.
Councilor Lynn Bogan Bumpers also said she would prefer if the raises were to be provided to all city employees, otherwise she would be opposed to increasing the millage rate.
Councilor Larry Breland agreed with Bumpers, saying he would be opposed to only increasing the pay to one department over another.
He also suggested the Council consider making small annual millage increases, instead of waiting to make a large increase.
Valente said a set in stone proposal has not been formed at press time.

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