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Mayor: Tax increase may be necessary

Monticello Mayor David Nichols proposed Tuesday that aldermenbegin considering the possibility of a tax increase for the 2007fiscal year, which begins in October.

The request came as aldermen considered what actions to take torevise the fiscal year 2006 budget at mid-year.

“This is probably the biggest revision of the budget we’ve hadin the nine years I’ve been mayor,” Nichols said.

He cited gasoline, utilities and insurance as areas that wereall over budget. The rising costs of gasoline and utilities are toblame for those shortcomings, while insuring the Lawrence CountySportsplex and adding new equipment to the existing policy caused apremium increase there, the mayor said.

The largest budget shortcoming was the amount targeted forgasoline, aldermen noted.

The town has had one tax increase in the past nine years,Nichols said.

The mayor added that aldermen should also consider thepossibility of losing taxes while determining whether, and by howmuch, to raise taxes.

“The sales tax legislation on groceries is not going away. Itwill be brought up again next year,” Nichols said.

Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck introduced legislation this year to eliminatethe 7.5 percent sales tax on groceries and replace it with anincrease on cigarettes. That bill, and one similar that lessenedthe impact on municipalities, passed the Legislature but werevetoed by Gov. Haley Barbour. There were several failed attempts tooverride the veto.

Nichols estimated the town could lose $250,000 to $1 million inannual revenue should a variation of the bill pass, depending onhow it is structured.

In other matters, George Magee, a member of the Lawrence CountyCivic Center committee, requested the board’s help in repaintingthe historic structure, which was once Monticello High School.

It has been at least 10 years since the center was painted,Magee said. Magee said the cost of the project would be nearly$16,000 in labor plus the cost of the paint.

Aldermen consulted with the budget they had just revised anddiscovered the account for the repair and maintenance of parks andrecreation facilities was also over budget.

“Obviously we want it to look good, but I think we might need towait until the next fiscal year,” said Ward Five Alderman CraigDavis.

Magee said the committee could do it themselves with the promiseof help from the city later.

“We’re not in a big hurry, but we need to get it painted,” hesaid. “We’ve got the money to do it, but we would sure like to havesome help on it.”

The board offered to provide $8,000 to $10,000 for the projectin the fiscal year 2007 budget.

The board also agreed to take action on a citizen’s complaintabout speeding traffic on East McPherson Street. Beverly Naquinrequested the board place stop signs or speed limit signs on thestreet, where children’s foot traffic has increased since theSportsplex was completed.

Although the board would not agree to place more stop signs onthe street to slow traffic, they did agree to place speed limitsigns and step up police patrols on the street.