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Wesson approves $590K budget

The Town of Wesson has a little less than $600,000 to operate for the next fiscal year after aldermen approved the town budget Tuesday.

The board voted 4-0 — with one alderman absent and another joining the meeting by phone — to adopt the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, which will give town leaders $596,100 in revenue to meet $593,760 in projected expenses beginning Oct. 1. Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw said the spending plan is scant on opportunities for luxuries, but gets the job down for carrying out the town’s business.

“It’s just like anything else — a lot of issues can be solved with a little more money. More money, more amenities,” he said. “But for the basic necessities, we’re able to cover our general government purpose. Some of the additional amenities will have to be postponed until more money can be found, and we’ve addressed that for 15 years through grant opportunities.”

The town has a little extra cash to take care of the general government purpose in the coming year, with projected revenues increasing by $13,000 thanks to a $15,000 bump in ad valorem taxes. Town properties will contribute $190,000 to the budget this year — one-third of all revenues — and taxes on vehicles will drop in another $5,000.

Most other sources of income stayed level, though losses in revenue are projected for rentals of the old Wesson school building and from fines and forfeitures.

The steady improvement in property tax collection has pushed the town’s budget to a four-year high, as it has grown nearly $31,000 from $565,150 in Fiscal Year 2015.

But the wine spills as the cup fills up, and Wesson’s expenses are up almost $42,000 since FY 2015.

Wesson has close to half its budget penned for the Wesson Police Department, which is projected to spend $273,350 next year, with $180,000 of that amount going toward salaries for the department’s three full-time and half-dozen part-time officers. The department’s salaries have remained level since Fiscal Year 2016, and the second-biggest chunk of spending there is a $24,000 retirement expenses that has remained flat from year to year.

Wesson’s general government expenses will require close to $181,000 next year, with $65,000 marked down for salaries — a number that will drop $3,000 from last year. The town is also planning for $28,000 in legal expenses and $10,000 for travel expenses, which Shaw said was the result of more town employees going out for continuing education.

The town’s street department will spend a little more than $97,000 next year. Around $30,000 will be put toward operation of the old school — most is a $9,700 repayment on an improvement grant — and the library will operate on $12,210.

The Wesson Volunteer Fire Department will take in $31,500 in revenue through special taxes and state and county funds, and should finish next year $6,600 in the black after projected expenditures of nearly $25,000.

The town’s water and sewer department — which, by law, must sustain itself — will take in $509,600 in meter and sewer charges and spend $505,450 to operate.

“This is a working budget,” Shaw told aldermen. “We can always amend it and modify it along the way as we find more here or less there.”