September 11, 2013 9:40:39 AM
The Columbus City Council set the city's operating budget and millage for the next fiscal year Tuesday.
City millage rates will remain 40.13 mills. The city also approved the millage for the school district, which is set at 65.87.
The value of a mill was also unchanged from last year at $170,000.
The city's budget is balanced, with projected expenditures and revenues each totaling $22,847,659.89. The budget presented during last week's public hearing had $76,791.69 in extra revenue.
Chief operations officer David Armstrong said that amount adjustment lowered projected revenues from police fines and forfeitures from $750,000 to $673,208.31.
"You might say (we're) playing with numbers, but the truth is we're always playing with numbers to make this work," Armstrong said. "This is not exact science. It's a best guestimate. We've never had excess revenue before and so we lowered the amount on collections."
Because revenues and expenditures were balanced to be the same, the city is not expected to operate at a deficit and won't have to dip into the available cash balance. This differs from last year when the council approved a budget with a $326,115 deficit.
The overall revenue amount approved differs slightly from the $22,864,570 the city projected in a public hearing notice published in the Aug. 30 edition of The Dispatch.
The budget was approved in a 5-1 vote, with Kabir Karriem the only councilman in dissent. Councilmen unanimously approved the millage. Karriem declined comment on his opposition to the budget.
Property taxes are calculated with mills. One mill is worth one-thousandth of a dollar. In this case, a property owner pays $40.13 for every $1,000 of assessed value on his or her property. The assessed value of a property is the appraised value multiplied by the assessment ratio (10 percent for residential properties). The owner of a property appraised for $100,000 in this example would owe about $400 in taxes. Municipalities, counties and school districts each establish their own millage rates to meet budgetary needs.
The budget includes an overall 3.64 percent salary raise for employees. It also increases administrative costs 11.56 percent, from $2,320,512 this year to $2,588,848.50 next year. Columbus Fire and Rescue's budget was cut 11.26 percent from $5,144,923 this fiscal year to $4,565,770.73. That includes a $100,000 reduction in available overtime pay for firefighters.
Columbus Police Department's budget was also cut. The reduction was 5.37 percent from $5,309,661 to $5,024,482.73. Public Works' budget, which includes funding for street/drainage repairs and solid waste service, will be $4,913,059.40, about 1 percent less than this year's budgeted amount of $5,078,385.
Those three departments' amounts make up a majority of the budget at $14,503,312.86 or 63.48 percent.
An amount of $648,710.93 is slated to go toward debt service. That goes toward monthly payments toward purchasing new equipment, renovating the Trotter Convention Center and matching portions federal grants for various city projects.
The budget goes into effect Oct. 1.
2012-13 Budget 2013-14 budget increase/decrease
Administration $2,320,712 ($1,728,444*) $2,588,848 + $268,136
Police Dept. $5,309,661 ($4,249,285*) $5,024,482 - $285,179
Fire Dept. $5,144,923 ($4,573,956*) $4,565,770 - $570,967
Streets $3,685,185 ($3,119,290*) $3,536,059 - $149,126
Solid waste $1,393,200 ($1,183,544*) $1,377,000 - $16,200
* expenditures through first 11 months of FY 2012-13
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
1. Mississippi menagerie: Steens resident converts old home into public attraction COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. Juneteenth festival marches on COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Gov., Lowndes leaders welcome steel plant expansion COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY