The cities of Aberdeen and Amory held their annual budget hearings regarding Fiscal Year ’19-’20 on Sept. 3, and taxpayers in both towns will face increases on what they pay annually on property taxes.
Although the City of Aberdeen, itself, refrained from a tax increase, a request from the Aberdeen School District will cause a slight increase for taxpayers.
“This year, the City of Aberdeen’s assessment will remain the same at 71.47 [mills]. There will be no increase for the city. However, the school district’s levy is 55.75, and that’s a 1.01 mill increase. The total levy for FY ’19-’20 is 127.22,” said city comptroller Karen Crump.
According to city clerk Jackie Benson, the increase will pose an additional $11.45, without homestead factored in, for taxes on a home valued at $60,000.
The city’s Fiscal Year ‘19’-’20 proposed revenue and expenditures total $5,359,885.
The total assessment for the school district is $72,890,989, which is a $3,326,561 increase compared to last year’s assessment. One mill for the school district is $102,856, which is a $3,190 increase from the previous year.
The total assessment for the city is $36,380,788, which is a $561,437 decrease compared to last year. One mill for the city is worth $33,076, which is a decrease of $411 from the previous year.
The total city and school valuation for the upcoming fiscal year is $109,271,777, which is a $2,765,124 increase.
Ward 5 Alderman Jim Buffington said ASD Superintendent Jeff Clay met with the board of aldermen in discussing the city’s position of trying to refrain from raising taxes. It was mentioned during last week’s public hearing state funding for the school has been decreased, and teacher pay raises have been mandated, which have posed financial difficulties.
“Superintendent Clay was very professional and he told us that they’re speaking points out there are a big difference between a need and a want. He asked us to trust in that they’re focusing on the needs, and wants are being pushed aside,” said Ward 2 Alderman Doug Stone.
Crump said the school district’s maintenance fund is capped off as far as mills are concerned, but there is a shortfall note, a three-mill note and a school bond that don’t have caps.
In reviewing the common city’s budget, the budget was balanced on less revenue.
“There were a few increases we had to do this year. For one, our retirement match increased by 1.65 percent. That took place July 1, which was quite a bit when you have 90 employees at that rate. Also, we had an increase in our health insurance of about $40 per month per person,” Crump said. “There are raises granted. The idea is there is a 1.35 percent raise per employee.”
With the 1.65 percent retirement raise included, the figure equates to a three-percent increase.
Capital expenditures for the upcoming budget year include a new tractor and a 16-foot dump trailer in public works, a floor sander for the park and recreation department, new mattresses, a laptop and hoses for the fire department and new radios for the police department.
Additionally, there’s a $30,000 increase compared to last year in the city clerk’s budget for next year’s city election and increases in starting pay for police officers.
“They are trying to make it where the city can compete with these surrounding towns, so the idea is to start our uncertified officers at $13 and once they complete the academy, move it up to $14,” Crump said.
Artisans Marketplace owner Pat Spicer asked what’s being done to attract more businesses to the city.
“A lot of the responsibility for the business climate rests on the citizens of Aberdeen. Me. If I’m shopping in Aberdeen and my family shops here, if we eat out here, if we buy our gas here, then we’re doing everything we can to promote this city and the sales tax revenue to make a climate where businesses want to come in. If people are going to Columbus, Tupelo, West Point and Amory to shop all the time, what can you say about that? Yes, we’re working behind the scenes. We’re doing everything we can to make this a favorable place,” Stone said.
Eighteen percent of the city’s revenues come from sales tax and according to Aberdeen Visitors Bureau Director Tina Robbins, 67 cents of every dollar spent in town stays in town through employee jobs and purchases.
Stone added the board of aldermen has committed to use money from any city-owned property sold will go towards infrastructure.
Crump also discussed the Aberdeen Water Department’s budget during last week’s public hearing, saying there has been a decrease in revenue.
“That may be something we have to address as far as rates because right now, we cannot get grants because our rates are so low,” she said.
According to city clerk Jamie Morgan, Amory’s Fiscal Year 2020 total proposed revenue is $7,854,210.
The total levy for FY ’19-’20 is 46.90 mills, which is a three mill increase from last year for the city. There will be an increase of 2.15 mills for the school district for a combined increase of the city and school from 95.65 mills to 100.80 mills.
The increase will pose an additional $180 in city taxes and $129 for the school district, without homestead factored in, for taxes on a home with an assessed value of $60,000.
“All municipalities and those agencies contributing to Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) will see the first full year of a contribution rate that increased from 15.75 percent to 17.40 percent,” Morgan said. “These percentages, added to the increase in dental and life insurance for our employees, along with needed street projects are the reason for the increase in millage rate.”
Capital expenditures for the upcoming year include payment on three leased police cruisers, one new leased vehicle for the police department, fire protection equipment and equipment for the public works department.
“There is also a $32,000 increase compared to last year in the election budget in the case of a special election,” she said. “Hourly salaries increased for some departments in order to create a competitive pay structure for the city.”
The total assessed value for the school district is $78,111,406, which is a $3,159,228 increase, or a $3,159 per mill increase, compared to last year’s assessment. One school mill is worth $78,111.
The millage rate for the school district is 53.9, equaling $4,210,204.78, which is an increase from the previous year. This figure includes two three mill notes from 2016 and 2019 and two shortfalls from 2017 and 2018.
The total assessment for the city is $62,179,613. One mill equates to $62,180, which is a $2,339,262 increase, or $2,340 per mill increase, compared to last year. The millage rate for the city is set at 46.9, equaling $2,916,224, which is an increase of $289,233 from the previous year.
A portion of this, three mills, goes to the Amory Municipal Library.