Local property taxes will rise less than expected in January

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 4, 2002

[09/04/02]With calculations complete, the owner of a $100,000 home anywhere in Warren County will see taxes rise $6 to $513 in January, officials said.

City and county officials approved rates Tuesday that are also a factor in car tag costs starting Oct. 1.

Three entities the City of Vicksburg, Warren County and the Vicksburg Warren School District combine the total levy. All three receive most of their budgets from sources other than property taxes, but it had appeared a much steeper increase was coming this year.

The county “spent considerable time on this budget in an effort to control expenses and to provide the same level of service at the same tax rate,” said Richard George, president of the board and District 5 supervisor.

At City Hall, Mayor Laurence Leyens was also enthusiastic. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job with this budget,” Leyens said. “We’re doing a lot more with less money.”

City, county and school income from property taxes rises “naturally” every year due to higher values assigned and more property to tax.

The county general fund budget, for example, is up just a little more than $411,000 and the city expects about $800,000 more in revenue using the tax rate used since 1999.

The only rate change will be 0.59 mill for schools after school trustees sought local funding of $19,721,114 for this year, up from the $18,122,418 last year.

Rick Polk, county administrator, said the net increase for schools amounted to $1.1 million because the district did not ask for $472,000 sought in FY 2002 for debt service.

At a total levy of 81.29 mills compared to the 80.7 mills, Tax Assessor Richard Holland said owners of residences eligible for homestead exemption paid $507 per $100,000 in market value this year and would owe $513 per $100,000 in market value in January.

Polk said funding for public safety departments Sheriff’s Department, ambulance service, 911 dispatch and similar made up $327,812 of the $411,388 increase for the county.

There were a couple of other major changes in the new budget, including a $100,000 drop in funding for recreation and a nearly $11,000 drop in the county’s contribution for county extension services.

Polk said the board decided to fund $100,000 of the recreation budget with money from the county’s share of local taxes on the four casinos. That allowed the board to drop the general fund contribution from $320,000 to $220,000.

The drop in the extension funding was what was asked for by the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service because of staffing changes.

The county budget also includes 3 percent raises for county employees and for adjustments in the pay scales for road deputies at the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and adjustments for corrections officers at the Warren County Jail and Youth Detention Center as they achieve state certification.

City officials have enacted new salary structures for all city employees and school trustees and awarded across-the-board $1,000 increases for classroom teachers.

Overall, the county general fund spending approved Tuesday will be $10.9 million; city spending approved last week will be $30.9 million and school spending approved in June will be $62.3 million.