Aldermen OK millage rate increase

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday evening focused on the city’s coming fiscal budget for 2019, which received a slight change during the meeting.

The 2019 fiscal year will begin Oct. 1 and end on Sept. 30, 2019.

The board held its second and final public hearing for the adoption of Starkville’s coming fiscal budget during Tuesday’s meeting.

However, consistent with the first public hearing, no citizens came to speak for or against the 2019 fiscal budget.

After the public hearing, the board adopted a slight change to the 2019 budget.

The board approved setting a millage rate increase for the 2019 fiscal year, bringing the millage rate to 26.63 mills.

The millage rate increase was approved 4-3, with Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A’. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn opposed.

A millage rate of 26.63 mills is an increase of 1.05 mills from the 2018 fiscal year.

“It will impact someone’s taxes based on the assessed value of the property,” Ward 2 Alderman and Budget Chair Sandra Sistrunk said. “If your house has a true value of $100,000, then you’re talking about $10.”

In other words, with an increase of 1.05 mills, the member or members of a homestead with a true value of $100,000 and an assessed value of $10,000 would see close to a $10 increase in taxes for the year.

For non-homestead exemption property with a true value of $100,000 and an assessed value of $15,000, the property owner would see closer to a $15 increase in taxes for the year.

Consistent with the prior examples, a $15 increase would be the highest increase for city property with a true value of $100,000.

Sistrunk believes the millage rate increase will help the city meet certain fiscal requirements.

“I think it was necessary this year for the board to be able to honor commitments,” Sistrunk said. “Both legal commitments and commitments of priorities we have discussed both last board term and this one.”

Sistrunk believes the increase is especially necessary due to the loss of other funds which were once available.

“It is exacerbated by the fact that our sales tax dollars have flattened out,” Sistrunk said. “And where we might’ve been able to do more of this and have less of a tax increase, sales tax dollars— where they had been growing in the past— it just wasn’t the case.”

However, some board members did not see a need for the millage increase.

“I didn’t feel as if it were necessary in this budget cycle to justify a millage increase,” Carver said. “Being fiscally conservative, I believe it is our duty as elected of officials to try to keep the burden of taxation to a minimum.”

The board approved the summary budget for the coming fiscal year 4-3, with Carver, Perkins and Vaughn opposed to its approval as well.

Mayor Lynn Spruill received the new budget with open arms.

“I am delighted that we have a budget that reflects our understanding of the need to have additional funds in order to support the things we think are important,” Spruill said. “In this case, it would be parks.”

Spruill said the coming budget reflects Starkville’s growth.

“Obviously, you have a growing city, and part of that is a need for revenue to meet those needs and wants,” Spruill added. “And some of that is parks.”

OTHER BOARD BUSINESS

After the failure of a motion to table the appointment to the next meeting, the board approved a motion to re-appoint James Henley on the Starkville Housing Authority Board of Commissioners.

The motion to re-appoint Henley passed 5-2, with Sistrunk and Perkins opposed.

Henley’s term will begin tomorrow, Sept. 6, and end in September 2023.

The board unanimously approved paying for a new ladder truck for the Starkville Fire Department, beginning payments in the 2020 fiscal year.

The need for a new firetruck comes after the failure of ladder truck one.

SFD Chief Charles Yarbrough said he will look to sell ladder truck one in the next few months.

The board approved the extension of the Eleventh Biennial Reunion Celebration and Scholarships Awards Banquet for the Oktibbeha County Training School and Henderson High School Scholarship Fund 4-3, with Ward 3 Alderman David Little, Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker and Perkins opposed to the extension.

The event will be extended to 11:59 p.m. and will take place at the Travis Outlaw Center.

While no member who opposed the extension was against the event itself, they were opposed to the event extension.

The board will hold a work session on Sept. 14 at 1:15 p.m. and the board’s next of official meeting will be on Sept. 18.

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