SALTILLO • Aldermen are expected to approve a Saltillo city budget that is nearly $1 million larger than last year, but there will not be a tax increase.
Only one resident showed up for the public hearing on the $6.59 million budget last week. The board is scheduled to approve the budget and tax levy during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 10.
Despite being $960,000 more than 2018, the FY2019 budget is very lean. Even with an estimated $40,000 increase in sales tax revenue, most departments show only slight increases, due in part to increasing healthcare costs. The majority of the budgetary increase is for grants and reserve money carrying over for long-term projects.
More than $440,000 of the increase is in grant money to improve sewer/drainage, street lighting and the health of citizens. A BP grant of $232,000 will pay for installing linings inside existing sewer lines and replacing damaged sections. A $150,000 grant will help the city improve the lighting along the Highway 145 commercial corridor. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi awarded a $58,000 hometown heroes grant that will install exercise stations at city park.
Saltillo will also increase three reserve funds by a total of more than $375,000 in preparation for major changes in the water and sewer departments.
The city continues to move forward with the switch from well water to surface water. In addition to costing about $200,000 to connect to the Northeast Mississippi Regional Water Supply District, the city will also have to start buying the pre-treated and more-expensive river water. The city has already voted to increase water rates to fund the increased costs, but the new rates will not kick in for another couple of months.
On the sewer side, the city could need the reserves to pay for some improvements at the waste water treatment plant in the coming months. That debt will be short-term with the Sand Creek Regional Wastewater Authority almost ready to come online.
City officials say any money spent will be repaid when the authority – made up of Saltillo, Guntown and Baldwyn – purchases the treatment plant as part of the $1.3 million first phase.
One place the city did save money was with the Main Street Program. The board voted in April to stop funding the 3-year-old program. That line item, which was about $52,000 in 2017 and $46,500 last year, will be replaced by a $15,000 expenditure for city promotions.
Saltillo’s tax levy will remain at 27 mills. Of that amount, 23.6 mills go to the general fund. Another 2 mills go toward fire protection and the final 1.4 mills finance the city’s general obligation bonds.