More work needed on Hattiesburg budget

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council will need to go back to the table with-in the next week to resolve an issue with the 2013 budget to avoid an increase in city property taxes.

The issue revolves around a half-mil increase or $190,000 added to the cities general fund. That would be in addition to a $380,000 increase because of a one-mil reduction in the police and fire retirement fund.

A new state formula allows the city to reduce its annual millage payment to the retirement fund and extend them over time. Council President Kim Bradley is against the half-mil increase as well as the retirement savings. Ward-four Councilman Dave Ware is also against the increase, but feels it's better for the city to take care of its obligations now instead of putting them off.

"What was presented tonight was a half-mil increase and that an additional bill if we go to the new system will be the whole mil-and a half," said Bradley. "It's actually an increase in the tax and I can't stand that. Sure we would like to have the $200,000, but I think that's deceptive."

"If we move forward funding the police and fire retirement fund in the way we normally do, we would have to go up by a half-mil," said Ware. "That however would allow us in the future, eight to 10 years, to go ahead and decrease that and take that millage completely off the citizens."

The council will meet next week to resolve the issue. The final vote on the budget is scheduled for Sept. 4.

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