City of Brookhaven postpones FY19 public budget hearing

Published 9:21 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Brookhaven aldermen voted Tuesday to postpone a public hearing for comments about the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget until Sept. 13.

Some residents may likely attend the public hearing to question a 50-cent increase each for water and sewer versus a 2-percent raise for city employees, as well as construction of an animal shelter and firehouse.

A quorum of the board met in a special-called meeting for less than two minutes to vote to reschedule the public hearing. They voted 5-0 to move it to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 13. Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron and Ward 2 Alderman Shannon Moore were absent from the meeting.

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The board will gather Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for a regularly-scheduled meeting, but it’s unlikely they’ll discuss the proposed budget at that time.

A water and sewer increase is recommended each year by the Mississippi State Department of Health. Aldermen took the state department’s recommendation and customers will see the small monthly hike on their bills after the budget goes into effect Oct. 1, said Mayor Joe Cox.

“Water/sewer rates do not come out of the general fund,” Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill wrote in a text to The Daily Leader. “By law, they are required to fund their operations based upon what they collect. A constituent emailed me to ask us to reconsider the 2 percent raises and not increase the water/sewer rates, but they do not understand or realize this distinction.”

The board has traded once-a-week trash pickup to keep customers’ solid waste bills the same. Cox said rates had not increased in six years, so the city hopes to keep the rates the same by reducing the number of pickups each week by the new carrier, Arrow Disposal Services Inc.

Aldermen discussing the proposed budget Aug. 21, which was drafted by City Clerk Samantha Melancon, said they wanted to see employees receive a 2-percent increase in pay across the board. City employees last received a pay increase in 2016 when weekly employees were given a 3-percent raise and those paid twice a month saw a 2-percent boost.

With the board’s approval, Melancon also earmarked $150,000 in the budget for an animal shelter and $700,000 for a fire station.

The City of Brookhaven is now operating with the projected total budget revenue of $12.35 million. Of that amount, 32 percent — or $3.96 million — of such revenue is obtained through ad valorem taxes. For the next fiscal year, the proposed budget has a total projected revenue of $12.78 million. Of that amount, 34 percent — or $4.31 million — is proposed to be financed through a total ad valorem tax levy. This tax levy will not represent an increase in ad valorem tax millage and the proposed millage rate will be 38.40 mills.

However, 34 percent of the Brookhaven School District’s $30.81 million budget is to be financed through an ad valorem tax levy, which will represent an increase in ad valorem tax millage of 3.15 mills for a proposed rate of 64.49 mills.

This increase in ad valorem tax revenue means that you may pay more in ad valorem taxes.