City of Laurel passes 2023-24 budget

Laurel passes 2023-24 budget
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 9:28 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - The City of Laurel passed its 2024 budget and has some big projects slated for the upcoming year.

The total budget came in at about $87 million.

Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said that the city is unique in that its sales tax revenue, roughly $11 million, accounts for 65 percent of its general fund.

“The sales tax increase is always a good thing, and we are happy for the sales tax increase,” Magee said. “And we attribute a lot of the sales tax increase to visitors of our city.”

For the third year in a row, city employees received a raise.

However, Magee said the city was only able to increase wages by 4 percent due to public employee retirement system increases.

“If PERS gets (its) way, if it happens the way they want it to, it will, over time, go up to 27 percent,” Magee said. “And that’s a good deal of money. It’s almost $1 million dollars that the city would have to come up with over a couple of years in order to match the PERS payments that we have to make for employees.”

Magee said over the next couple of years, the city is putting about $50 million toward improving city streets.

Some of the projects include paving 22 neighborhood streets, including:

  • Spec Wilson Boulevard
  • 12th Street improvement project
  • Cook Avenue and Cross Street to 16th Avenue.

The latter is a nearly $25 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant-funded project.

“We’re taking care of the water and the sewer and we are making sure the streets are in as good of shape as we can make them be.,” Magee said. “That was one of the promises that we made when we first took office is that we were going to fix the streets and we were going to fix them in the proper manner.”

Magee said although the city’s millage rate increased this year because of the increase in property values, people won’t see their taxes go up.

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