I want to thank the Faculty, Staff, and Administrators of the Hattiesburg School District for the tireless work on behalf of the children in our community. We are all indebted to you for your dedication and commitment to the education of our future leaders. The success of the school district and the City of Hattiesburg are inextricably linked, and I am striving to see that -- together -- we reach our potential. That was the goal with the City Council's decision last week not to grant the school district's request for a tax increase.
The facts are simple. The Hattiesburg School District requested a $600,000 tax increase for this fiscal year. The budget for the district was instead set at the same amount as last year, around $15 and half million dollars. There has not been a cut to the school district's budget.
In discussions with officials at the school district, I learned that the school district has budgeted a reserve balance, or "rainy day fund", that is more than twice the amount recommended by the Mississippi Department of Education: our school district maintains a fund balance of approximately $5 million dollars.
My request is that the school district use part of the 5 million dollars in rainy day funds to cover the $600,000 in increased taxes it has requested. If in future years, as our local economy improves, an increase in local funding is needed, I encourage school officials to request additional funds. Simply put, if today is not the day to use "rainy day funds", then when?
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