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Council approves budget, delays vote on tax rate

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Sept. 3, 2003
Meridian city councilmen voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an $85 million spending plan for the next fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 but didn't set the property tax rate.
They did, however, vote to increase water rates 10 percent to meet new federal regulations to treat the city's water. The increase came a year after councilmen raised rates 8 percent.
Henson said the property tax rate is expected to remain unchanged. But before officially setting it, she said, the council must wait for Lauderdale County to finalize property reappraisal figures in coming weeks.
Henson and other councilmen approved their final spending plan about 11⁄2 months earlier than they did a year ago when they waited until mid-October before adopting the city budget.
Despite that, the council must resolve two issues in the coming weeks: a final plan on how to give city workers a 2.5 percent pay raise and which agencies will receive $241,000 the council earmarked for contributions.
Possible recipients of some of the $241,000 could be the East Mississippi Business Development Corp., the Meridian Museum of Art, the Meridian Transit Authority and the Meridian Area Navy League.
Councilmen also discussed a transfer of money the city makes between its water fund and general fund. For the past few years, the city has pumped about $800,000 from the water fund into the general fund.
Last year, councilmen cut that amount to about $600,000. They planned to lower the transfer to $400,000 this year before eventually eliminating it altogether.
Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith said he wanted to know why the transfer remained at $600,000 in the new budget.
In other business:
The Meridian City Council also voted 3-2 Tuesday to contribute $500 to a birthday party for former Meridian High School football standout Kenny Smith, who now plays for the New Orleans Saints.
The party will be held in New Orleans. Council President Barbara Henson, who represents Ward 3, and George Thomas, who represents Ward 1, voted against the contribution.