City council approves tax increase for proposed 2018 fiscal budget
HATTIESBURG, MS. - The Hattiesburg City Council unanimously approved a 3-mill tax increase during a special called meeting Thursday night. Hattiesburg homeowners will see their ad valorem taxes slightly rise.
Also on Thursday council members held a public hearing on the 2018 fiscal year budget. Mayor Toby Barker informed council that a tax increase will help with the city's public safety needs.
According to Mayor Barker the city wants to build another fire station on Highway 49 and to set aside money for the safety complex.
Barker says 1 mill will help fund the fire station and 2 mills will be set aside for future debt services on the police station and municipal court buildings.
"I think it sends the signal that we are serious about setting our law enforcement up, to meet the needs about the economic growth that we are seeing and what we hope to see in the future" says Mayor Barker.
City homeowners will have to pay $32.50 more per year on a $100,000 home. City Council President Carter Carroll says the 3-mill tax increase is cheaper for homeowners in the long run.
President Carroll says, “It is much cheaper for the population to build a fire station than it would be for their ratings to go up.”
According to the city, due to the reappraisal this year, the amount of millage needed to fund the Hattiesburg Public School Districtʼs budget request decreased, which means the net millage increase will only be .26 mills for Hattiesburg residents living in the Hattiesburg Public School District.
The approved tax increase was included in the city's proposed budget where it plans to use about $125 million for the 2018 fiscal year. Also included in the budget city employees are given a raise.
For Water & Sewer, Public Works, and Parks & Recreation employees, the following wage increases will take effect April 1, 2018 if by March 31, 2018 an employee has the following service time:
2 - 4 years: $0.25/hr - 15 - 19 years: $1/hr
5 - 9 years: $0.50/hr - 20 - 24 years: $1.25/hr- 10 - 14 years: $0.75/hr - 25+ years: $1.50/hr
All current code enforcement officers will receive a $1,000 annual raise as of April 1, 2018.
“It is going to be good for the city, good for the employees, there is something in there for everyone" says Carroll.
City council will vote on the budget next Thursday. If approved, the proposed budget will take effect October 1.
Here is the break down on the budget from the city: