HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council voted unanimously to approve a 3-mill tax increase for the Hub City.
The decision was made Thursday evening in a special-called meeting at Hattiesburg City Hall, all in efforts to help fund aspects of public safety.
"It takes a look at the needs that we have right now, needs that have existed for several years, to finally meet those," said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.
Those needs are a new fire station on U.S. 49 North, a new police station and municipal court building.
"A 3 mill increase means about $30 to $35 on a $100 thousand house," Barker said. "However, a silver lining is that if you live in the Hattiesburg Public School District area, the amount of millage they needed this year due to reassessment, to fulfill their budget requests actually went down, so the net millage increase between city and school district is only .26."
That .26 equals out to roughly $2 to $3 according to Barker.
In years past, the city was given seven items to improve to keep their current Class 4 fire rating. Some of those things haven't been done.
"The thing we cannot afford is to lose our Class 4 rating, because everyone's insurance rate at that point would be effected a lot more than just a 3-mill increase," said Barker.
"I think it's going to help the fire department and the police department, to have a new police department and also an additional fire department, which will help us keep our rates," said Council President, Carter Carroll.
Barker addressed the council personally during his request and told them having funding to complete major projects is a necessity.
"To have the funding to go forward, the 1-mill that's going to go and build this facility on Highway 49 North, probably takes five to seven years to pay off, along with the 2-mill set aside for future debt service on the police station and the municipal court building," Barker said. "I think sends a signal that we are serious about setting our law enforcement up to meet the needs brought on by the economic growth and that we hope to see in the future."
"This budget overall, I think is going to be good for the city," Carroll said. "I think it's going to be good for the employees, there's something in there for everyone."
"This is for fiscal year 2018, which starts October 1st, all these budget, tax items will go into effect," said Barker.
3 MILL-increase on property tax levy effective for fiscal year 2018 ($32.50 on $100,00 home)
- 1 MILL will go to build the new fire station on Highway 49 North.
- 2 MILLS will be set aside for future debt service on the new police station.
- 10 new patrol cars for Hattiesburg Police Department
- One new pump truck for Hattiesburg Fire Department
- One new Sprint Truck for Hattiesburg Fire Department
- Total FY 2018 Budget- $125,462,269
- General Fund- $56.9 million
- Special Fund Reserve- $20.2 million
- Debt Service- $3.5 million
- Water & Sewer- $44.1 million