Approval of HPS funding means raising taxes

HATTIESBURG,MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg City Council President Kim Bradley says the biggest issue the city has faced while finalizing the budget is dealing with a $400,000 reduction in millage income.

"Still some uncertainty in our future when we are trying to budget, you know trying to come up with right revenue numbers from our sales tax and our ad valorem tax," said Bradley.

Even with a deficit that size Bradley says the city can handle it.

"We are not going to increase the number of mils. We are just going to absorb that $400,000," said Bradley.

In spite of lacking revenue, Bradley says the city does not want to raise millage. But in order to give the Hattiesburg School District its requested funding, residents who live within the HPS district will see an increase in their taxes.

"To generate the same amount of revenue they got last year. Approximately 16 and a half million dollars, we are going to have to go above that 55 mil cap that the legislature has in place and to somewhere around 57 mils," said Bradley.

Bradley says this increase is a the city council has limited control in making.

"The council has no vote, no say in levying those taxes. All we do is vote to set the millage that will generate the amount of money the school board has requested. I really have a serious issue with that." Bradley added. "I do believe you have an unelected body that is levying taxes on the people, and there is no accountability to it. I think the council ought to be taken out of that, I think the legislature needs to rewrite that law, and 55 mils is what the school board gets then they deal with it with the revenue they have,"

Bradley says the city won't find itself in court with the district like last year, but the city's ruling on the budget will be known tomorrow. The possible millage increase is still being worked out by the chief financial officer.

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