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Mayor proposes possible millage rate increase for capital improvements

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is considering a possible property tax increase for capital improvements bond issue and wants the public’s input.

He announced the proposal during a recent budget hearing, saying the cost of government and declining revenues made it difficult to run the city and have the money to sustain growth without either outsourcing more work or finding more revenue.

“I’m going to recommend probably in March a capital improvements plan on the (2021 municipal) general election,” he said. “Because the Legislature didn’t allow for the 1 percent sales tax I intend to put some type of capital improvements (plan) on the ballot for people to vote on.”

Flaggs said the ballot item is a nonbinding referendum.

“It will give me an opportunity to see where the people want to go with the growth and development of the city,” he said.

The amount of the bond issue has not been determined, but Flaggs indicated it could be as much as $55 million with a payback spread out over 10, 15 or 20 years.

Under state law, cities are allowed to increase general fund millage rates up to the equivalent of 10 percent of the highest ad valorem revenue from the three previous years without holding a referendum.

The city’s present millage rate is 35.88 mills, which was set in 1999. Ad valorem revenue totaled $8.45 million in fiscal 2019 and $9.86 million in fiscal 2018.

Flaggs’ proposal comes after the Legislature failed to approve a local and private, or special, bill to allow a public referendum to let the city levy a 1-cent sales tax on items other than food and beverages and hotel room rentals to fund a $55 million capital improvements bond issue.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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