No 2016 budget approved for city of Laurel

No 2016 budget approved for city of Laurel

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - The city of Laurel does not have a budget for the 2016 fiscal year.  At a special called meeting Wednesday, Sept. 2, the vote was deadlocked 3-3, lacking the majority.

Mayor Johnny Magee cited many reasons that he feels the budget was not approved, one being his recommendation for a raise for city employees.

"(Council members) didn't feel that it was proper that we should raise taxes on one hand and give raises on another hand," he said.

The tax increase the mayor is referring to is for funding to improve city streets later this year, but he said a budget dispute could hamper that process.

"I believe the council is aware that we are about to spend $10 million on road improvements, and I believe that they will see the big picture and agree to fund the budge," Magee said.

Magee said the council members also disagreed on the sales tax collection for the city.

"This year we budgeted $9.7 million in sales tax collection, but it doesn't look like we will meet that budget," he said. "So next year, we budgeted $9.3 million and there are still some that feel that that figure is too high."

With just days remaining until the budget deadline, Magee said work will not get done in the city if the council does not come to an agreement.

"The state auditor says if we don't have a budget by (September) 15th, and we have sent the number to the tax collector, then we actually have an illegal tax increase that has gone to the county tax collector," Magee said.

Magee said he is waiting for the council budget committee to decide when another special meeting will be held.