by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Undoubtedly, the cost of living in a market filled with inflation is tough and the city of Long Beach was forced to raise property taxes, public safety costs, insurance premiums, a state mandatory PERS increase, and a county-wide garbage hike in late September. According to city officials, the approximate revenue numbers were $13,175,604 for revenue and $13,055,996 for the expenditures to shape out a balanced budget.
Furthermore, a $200,000 assessed home will have to pay roughly $100 more in property taxes.
“The city was up against a 250,000+ increase in insurance premiums along with a state mandated 2% increase every year for the next 5 years in PERS (city employee) contributions,” said Long Beach Mayor Pro-Temp and Alderman-at-Large Donald Frazer, who has been serving in the top seat since Mayor George Bass had received cancer treatment. “The board made cuts to every department and even cut out part-time positions trying to balance the budget in the end. It came down to a tough decision of cutting first responders and essential services to the citizens for raising taxes.”
Frazer spoke of the tough decision the board of aldermen made and how citizens elected them to make these measures. Before this ratification, taxes had not been reportedly increased since 2003. Additionally, there is a $600,000 raise from the Harrison County Utility Authority for waste and garbage, totaling a $10 increase to residential water bills.
While the city had an increase in their ad valorem mil by 4.65 to 53.63, there was no augmentation in the Long Beach School District ad valorem mil at 65. The total combined mils are at 118.63.
Even though no jobs were added through the process, public safety salaries were raised. The fire department received a $2500 raise, and the police department gained a $5000 raise, but the Long Beach Police had to freeze three unfilled positions for the pay increase.
After all this was put forward in the budget recommendation, two resolution votes were cast on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 and it was not unanimous.
On the first vote, adopting the municipal budget resolution for the Fiscal Year 2024, a 6-1 vote was cast with Long Beach Ward 3 Alderwoman Angie Johnson being the only board member to vote in dissent. The next resolution which set the millage rate for the Fiscal Year 2024, the final vote was 5-2 with Johnson and Ward 1 Alderman Patrick Bennett both dissenting.
The new fiscal year began Sunday, October 1, 2023 and goes to Monday, September 30, 2024.