Public hearing set for tonight on Starkville tax increase

September 3, 2013 9:12:00 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


Starkville aldermen will hold a public hearing today on the city's Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which includes a 2.78-mill increase on property taxes. 


The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. 


If approved, Starkville's operational millage would be set at 22.78 mills. 


Aldermen first proposed the tax increase on Aug. 13 in order for the city to address increasing expenditures, including a long-overdue pay raise for its employees, departmental requests, outside contributions and its plan to construct a new City Hall. 


Five aldermen -- Ben Carver, Lisa Wynn, David Little, Jason Walker and Scott Maynard -- pushed the proposal out of that day's budget committee meeting, but Carver joined Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn a week later in opposing state-mandated advertising for a tax increase. 


The city currently operates with a 20-mill ad valorem levy which brings in almost $4 million. The proposed hike, which would increase the ad valorem level to 22.78 mills, would increase revenues to almost $4.5 million through property taxes. The proposed Fiscal Year 2014 city budget represents an increase from $16.84 million to $17.76 million. 


Property taxes are calculated with mills. One mill is worth one-thousandth of a dollar. For example, if the millage rate is 20 mills, a property owner pays $20 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% for residential properties). The owner of a property appraised for $100,000 in this example would owe $200 in taxes. 


Municipalities, counties and school districts each establish their own millage rates to meet budgetary needs. 


Maynard, the Starkville Audit and Budget Committee chairman, previously said the 2014 increase will allow the city to be competitive and facilitate future budgetary planning. He recommended the millage increase after working off of departmental and outer-organizational requests while balancing the need to fully fund Starkville's long-term capital improvement projects and its first significant employee pay raise in three years. 


While the tax rate remained relatively flat under the previous board -- former aldermen did approve a .45-mill increase in the last term -- expenses from this fiscal year are expected to increase into the next. 


A public hearing is required before the city can set its budget and new tax rate. Aldermen face a mid-September deadline to finalize the city's financial matters.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch