The McComb city board heard good and bad news during the first preliminary discussion on the upcoming fiscal year budget on Tuesday.
Despite concerns of a reduced spending plan, officials said the city’s overall budget will increase by about half a million dollars in the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
The proposed budget calls for the hiring of additional firefighters and police officers, as well as general equipment purchases for nearly every department.
City Administrator David Myers started the discussion off by praising the city’s financial staff, noting the group did a “bang up job.” preparing the budget and that the figures are far more accurate than prior years.
“Up front, I will say that no millage or tax increase is in this proposed budget,” he said.
Despite concerns of decreased sales tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic, Myers said the city overperformed and the sales tax projection should increase by about $200,000, bringing the city’s projected sales tax revenue from $5.8 million to $6 million in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
“COVID, as bad as it is, has been OK in terms of sales tax revenue for every city in the state of Mississippi in terms of money that has gone into the system,” Myers said.
The Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the state Department of Revenue said Tuesday that tax collections increased 16% — more than $924 million — in the past fiscal year.
In McComb, there was an increase in revenue by $531,708 over the past fiscal year.
This year’s estimated total budget is $11.69 million, which is up from the previous fiscal year’s 11.15 million.
Myers said department heads met over the past few weeks to present wishlists, adding that he worked with them as best he could to get them some of the requests.
“There is no way they are going to get everything they want, but they won’t be totally unhappy when we got down to the budget in terms of cutting,” Myers said. “We want to bring you — the board — a balanced budget. There is only so much money that can be spent on expenditures.”
Myers said the city had budgeted for additional hires for the fire and police departments, but those wouldn’t be made until the third quarter as part of a cost-saving measure. The proposed budget also squares away cash for a knuckle boom tractor for the Public Works Department. The city also budgeted for one additional police vehicle with the possibility for another to be added later.
Also stashed away was funding to transfer the city’s finance data from AS400 to BBI, a more robust and updated program for city finances. Myers said the up-front cost to pay for the program and training will be dwarfed by the long-term savings.
Some money was also allocated for travel and training. Myers said some employees haven’t been through training in some time and that needed to be remedied in the coming year.
One of the decreases in the budget comes from the special revenue fund, which Myers said will take a hit due to decreased revenue from the library, cemetery and hotel motel tax. He noted that decrease comes from poor estimations from the previous fiscal year.
Overall, Myers said, the budget for the upcoming fiscal year is balanced and the numbers, to his knowledge, were accurate.
Myers also mentioned a previous issue with the water and sewer fund being overextended.
The city previously injected $1.5 million from the capital improvement fund to the water and sewer trust fund to pay off the city’s loans attached to the fund.
Myers said the city will have a long-term solution to the water and sewer fund issue by the next budget meeting on Aug 3.