The proposed one and a half mill increase will provide the city with an additional $400,000 compared to this year's budget. That's money council members want to distribute to areas they feel need the money to maintain or improve the city both economically and physically.
Councilman George Thomas, city council president, describes where the money will go. "There'll be some more money in economic development, downtown alliance; those two areas particularly there'll be some increase. Again, in hard economic times, if we can have increased economic development, which EMBDC helps us with, downtown alliance helps us with those things, so that helps the whole community, the total community, so they'll be some increase there, but the majority of the increase will be in Public Works."
The city's millage rate has not increased in about 10 years, but Thomas says the city is at a point where they simply cannot operate with current tax revenues.
"We're trying to catch up. We're really at a point expenses of things, if property values go down like we're assuming they're going to do based on preliminary reports, then this is an effort to keep us even, at least even," says Thomas.
Included in the proposed budget for 2013, the city council is proposing a two percent increase in salaries for all city employees.
"They've gone several years with very minor increases," Thomas says. "Cost of living is up, cost of everything is up, probably their insurance will go up, so yes there's a two percent across the board raise for all employees."
Thomas had wanted to see a greater increase for lower salaried workers by proposing a flat across the board raise instead of a percentage raise, but he was outvoted by the council 4 to 1.
A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, September 11 at 5:15pm at City Hall. We will hear reaction from Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry about the proposed budget Friday.