Pay raises, fee hikes in city budget

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 13, 2001

Brookhaven aldermen Wednesday approved new year budgets for thegeneral fund, water and sewer and solid waste operations, includinga $3 a month increase in fees to cover garbage collectionservices.

Brookhaven aldermen Wednesday approved new year budgets for thegeneral fund, water and sewer and solid waste operations, includinga $3 a month increase in fees to cover garbage collectionservices.

The general fund budget for the new year calls for $8.95 millionin revenue and expenditures, an increase of about $800,000 over thecurrent year’s $8.13 million. Of the revenue amount, $1.4 millionis expected to come from property taxes.

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“This is a bare bones budget,” said City Clerk Iris Rudman inpresenting spending plans. “We didn’t put in a lot that everybodythought we needed because we didn’t have the money.”

City officials held five work sessions in preparing new yearspending plans. After taking “wish list” requests from citydepartments, officials were facing a $1.5 million deficit.

“You really had to bite the bullet to get this budget down,”Rudman told aldermen.

Rudman mentioned $200,000 in paving funds that were cut and aproposed $230,000 industrial park land purchase that was delayeduntil fiscal year 2003. Other items slashed from the budgetincluded funds for recreation department projects, ditch repair andsome individual ward projects.

Included in the budget are 5 percent pay raises for allemployees, funds to cover a 21 percent increase in employee healthinsurance premiums and money for the lease purchase of several newvehicles, including five for the police department. Utilizingfederally-appropriated funding, the budget has money for a $810,000project to improve water services for the Mississippi School of theArts on the Whitworth campus and money for a major First and SecondStreet paving project.

“It looks like a good budget as far as I’m concerned,” saidMayor Bill Godbold.

The budget was approved 6-0, with Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengilland Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner noting their objections to thepay raises for aldermen and the mayor. Ward 3 Alderman the Rev.Jerry L. Wilson was not at the brief meeting.

Prior to budget approval, aldermen voted to boost four solidwaste-related fees.

The residential garbage collection fee was raised to $12, a $3 amonth increase. There had been earlier indications that somecustomers’ monthly fee was $9.50 instead of $9, but Rudman saidraising to fee to $12 would address that situation.

At the landfill, the fee for putting items at the compost andrubbish fee was raised from $10 a ton to $15 a ton and the fee forprivate dumping and for other agencies using the site was boostedto $36 a ton from $33.40 a ton. Daily rental on garbage trailerswas raised from $25 a day to $30 a day, although the effect thatincrease will have is expected to be minimal.

“It’s not enough to change anything in the budget,” Rudmansaid.

The new fees, along with a little more revenue from the propertytax levy, are expected to cover increases operating and personnelexpenses in the solid waste department. Revenue for the service,which must be self-supporting, may only come from garbage-relatedfees and a four-mill property tax levy.

The solid waste budget for the new year is $1.24 million, anincrease of almost $100,000 over this year’s $1.15 million.Carryover funds from this year will be needed to help balance thebudget.

“That’s for this year only,” Rudman said about the upcomingyear. “I have no idea what next year will bring.”

In property tax-related action, aldermen the millage rate forcity and city school district operations at a combined 86.44 mills.That is slightly different from an 84.99 mill proposed at the fifthbudget work session, but the approved levy still represents about a12 percent decrease from the current year’s 98.07-mill levy.

Of the total levy, 53.87 mills will be levied in the city andcity school district to fund the local portion of districtoperation. For city services, 32.57 mills will be levied.

One property tax mill is equal to $1 for every $1,000 ofassessed property value.

The property tax rate was able to be lowered following astate-mandated countywide reappraisal of property values that sawabout a $10 million increase in city real property values. Theeffect the lower tax levy will have on individual property ownerswill depend on their values were adjusted during thereappraisal.

The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. The higher garbage fees willbe seen on next month’s water bills.