Increased property values raise city revenue

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 19, 2002

[08/19/02]Next year’s revenue for the City of Vicksburg is projected to be up about $800,000 largely due to a 6.5 percent increase in property values inside the municipal limits.

That means tax rates may not be increased, city officials said as they worked on their spending plan for the year that starts Oct. 1.

The plan is to be presented at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday at City Hall Annex.

South Ward Aldermen Sid Beauman said that with revenue projections due to new construction and higher values on existing property, officials are looking at leaving tax rates the same.

“We’re looking to cut another million or so from the budget,” Beauman said. “We’d like to walk out with a budget that is less than last year, with no tax increases and still be able to provide services.”

A big ticket in the new year will be starting to repay the $17.5 million the city borrowed in November at a rate of about $2 million per year over the next 10 years.

With the $800,000 in new revenue and $1 million saved from other budget categories, Mayor Laurence Leyens said repayment can start without raising taxes.

“Our administration is comfortable that we can squeeze out of excess, which is everywhere, enough to cover this bond,” Leyens said.

The total value of real estate and personal property in the city is $265 million which is expected to generate about $6.1 million in ad valorem taxes.

Other revenue for the city’s budget includes gaming, state, county and miscellaneous fees. The largest income category is the state’s rebate of 18.5 percent of all sales taxes collected in the city. For the new year, that’s expected to be $6.5 million.

Officials have already trimmed $37.7 million in budget requests from city division heads to a $29.8 million spending plan, an increase of about $500,000 over this year’s budget.

The largest spending category is personnel cost which are projected to top $18.7 million next year, about $1 million over this year. That amount includes a new pay scale for city employees, but also reflects a total reduction of about 9 percent in the number of employees.

The number of city workers on the payroll has been cut from 543 when the administration took office 13 months ago to about 496 a year later.

“We’re going to try to do it again this year,” Leyens said.

While city tax rates are expected to be unchanged, Vicksburg and Warren County residents will see an increase on their tax bills in December. Earlier this year, the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees approved a $62.3 million spending plan that includes a $1.2 million increase in local funds.

Richard George, president of the board of supervisors, has said supervisors do not anticipate any change in tax rates for county operations, but supervisors had not set a date for their budget hearing.

By law, city and county officials must have their tax rate set by Oct. 1 and boards here usually complete the process in mid-September.