Vicksburg, Warren County set budget hearings| [8/11/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

City sees no tax increase.

Total spending from Vicksburg’s general fund is expected to add up to $27.8 million in the coming year, said Strategic Planner Paul Rogers, and more than $19.4 million of that number will be for payroll.

A final version of a spending plan was to be filed for publication around noon today in the City Clerk’s office. The net spending increase over this year is projected at $500,000, an amount that would be generated through normal growth and without an increase in tax rates.

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&#8220The last piece of the puzzle is how much of a subsidy we’re going to allow the convention center,” said Rogers, who planned to finalize the numbers after a late-morning meeting.

The last payment on $12 million in bonds issued for the project 10 years ago was paid in March. That $1.3 million plus $794,000 to cover the net operating loss were in this year’s city spending plan. This year, the center’s contract managers are adding another $542,500 to their request for capital outlay. Most would pay for $235,000 worth of retractable seats and $180,000 to renovate the heating and cooling units in the exhibition hall, offices and lobby.

The subsidy for the convention center from general funds is reduced by rental income for the facility and by a 2 percent tax collected on rooms rented by the night.

The &#8220overage” on funding requests from department heads for the upcoming year was about $3 million, one of the lowest amounts in years. Among big-ticket items left off the final agenda will be a $1.6 million generator for the Water Treatment Plant and $100,000 for parade barriers for the police use.

Vicksburg’s general fund does not contain revenue or spending for its water, gas, sewer and garbage utilities. Totaled, the city receives and spends about $65 million each year.

Also not in the spending plan is the $10 million-$12 million expected to be raised in a fall bond issue. So far, ideas are to fund an urban renewal of historic riverfront properties from Washington Street west to the Mississippi River and Yazoo Diversion Canal in the Oak Street Corridor with some of that money. Portions will also go to a replacement for the Washington Street bridge near Clark Street, the first phase of a $20 million recreational complex on Fisher Ferry Road and $7 million in citywide paving projects. The specific locations of the planned paving have not been determined, said Public Works Director James &#8220Bubba” Rainer.

The city still has roughly $12 million to pay on its last bond issue, $18 million borrowed six years ago, with much of it spent on downtown renewal. Rogers has said the city will pay $2 million a year through 2011 on that debt.

Vicksburg’s public hearing on its budget will be Aug. 24. The Warren County Board of Supervisors set Sept. 5 to unveil their spending plan.

In other business Thursday, city officials: