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City budget, property tax rate approved for 2017 fiscal year

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed ordinances on final reading last week that adopt the city budget and property tax rate for the 2017 fiscal year.
Board members took the action on separate motions during their meeting last Thursday. Each motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Alderman Frankie Dakin absent.
The ordinances were passed on first reading at the board’s May 9 meeting.
City Finance Director John Trusty has said the budget contains no decrease in service levels, no privatization of city departments and no layoffs of city employees.
But he has noted that it includes “a continued emphasis” on funding for regular street repairs, as well as the elimination of “deferred maintenance needs” of city-owned infrastructure.
Citing the second year of a compensation plan that the board approved in October 2015, Trusty has said the budget contains an increase in pay levels for all “competent employees,” not an “across-the-board” hike.
He recalled that the compensation plan dealt with what the city considered a “major disparity” in police and fire salaries and also with other employees.
The budget allocates $334,000 as the initial portion of $1 million in matching funds that the city will provide during the next three years for the Resiliency Grant.
Also included is $103,972 as the initial portion of a two-year commitment of local matching funds for a state grant the city is seeking in order to enhance the Farmers Market property.
The budget also includes funding to establish the Maintenance of Effort “number” for the Millington Municipal Schools system, which will begin its third year of operation on July 1.
Because the state mandates that Millington’s water revenues cover its water expenses, the budget includes a 5-percent increase in the city’s water rates.
Trusty has said there are “several major items coming up” in both the Water and Sewer funds, but only the Water Fund currently needs an increase.
The budget continues Millington’s $1.53 property tax rate for each $100 of assessed valuation. But Trusty has acknowledged that the tax ordinance is “a little different” from previous years.
Historically, the board has approved a “singular” tax rate for the city. But because of the Tax Increment Financing District it created for development along Highway 51, Trusty has said it was necessary to “break out” the amount that will go toward debt service.
He has noted that setting the rate for debt service allows the city to “maximize” its collections under the Tax Increment Financing to get the most revenue from the property taxes during that development phase.
Shortly before the votes at last Thursday’s meeting, Trusty said the budget ordinance contains additional wording that pertains to the sale of up to $6,269,781 in bonds for the school system after Jan. 1, 2017.
He said that is “contingent upon” the execution of an Inter-Fund Reimbursement Agreement with the school system.
He noted that the budget also includes a $20,000 appropriation for the Millington YMCA, subject to “conditions of state law,” which will be met.
Citing a $72,000 reduction in anticipated General Fund revenues, Trusty said that was made up of two things.
He noted that the anticipated revenue from City Court fines has been increased by $10,000.
“They’ve been down over the last couple of years,” he said. “They’re running a little better than I thought they were going to this year.”
But he noted that the anticipated revenue from traffic camera fines has been reduced by $82,000. He said a new state law that takes effect on July 1 contains wording that he believes will “greatly restrict” those collections.
To offset some of the lost revenue, Trusty said expenditures in Finance and Administration and General Government have been reduced by approximately $7,000.
While citing a “minor negative adjustment” in the City Court’s budget, he said a television set will be provided for the courtroom. And if computer equipment is needed next year, that will also be funded.
Trusty also said the Capital Projects section of the budget includes changes to reflect the funding for the school system’s capital needs.

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