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Lafayette County OK’s budget; Oxford leaders to vote on budget Thursday

A public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget for the city of Oxford brought some good news for residents – taxes will not be going up this year in the city.

No comments from the public were made at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting. The aldermen are expected to vote on the final budget at 9 a.m. Sept. 14 during a special meeting. By state law, the budget must be approved by the board by Sept. 15.

The budget includes a 1.5 percent cost-of-living raise for all city employees.

The aldermen have met several times throughout August in budget meetings to rehash the budgets submitted by each department.

The millage rate will remain at 30.22.

Revenues and expenses

The projected revenues, which comes from fines, forfeits, governmental services, license and permits, ad valorem taxes and sales taxes, is projected to be $28,199,943 with an excess of $2 million in beginning cash expected to be rolled over from this year’s budget.

Sales tax brings in the most revenue with $9,616,900 projected in the budget; however, City Clerk Ashley Atkinson said with the growth rate, the city could see more than $10 million in tax revenue over the next 12 months.

Ad valorem taxes are expected to bring in $7,418,470 and government services should bring in $3,250,000. Some of those revenue sources include water and sewer bills, recycling and the city’s swimming pool.

The biggest expense is the Oxford Police Department, which submitted a $7.3 million budget that included purchasing eight new patrol cars and hiring an additional dispatcher and creating a new position, technology manager.

Oxford Fire Department requested $5,2 million this year, FNC Park requested $1.3 million, the Street Department requested $4.1 million and Parks and Recreation asked for $1.6 million.

County taxes to rise slightly

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved the 2018 fiscal year budget, as well as a 1.2 mill increase last week during their regular board meeting.

The raise is part of two-part millage increase where the board decided to raise the millage rate by one point for fiscal year 2017 and one in the upcoming fiscal year 2018. The mill will help cover bonds that are being used for the construction of West Oxford Loop and Sisk Avenue extensions and the future Lafayette County Business Center.

Despite the increase, Lafayette County still has one of the lowest millage rates in the state with 36.98 mills for general government and Northwest Mississippi Community College.

The supervisors approved the $29,725,953 budget that includes $9,602,148 for Lafayette County Schools, which is raised through a separate 69.37 millage.

The budget also includes a $600 annual raise for all employees.

Where the money goes

General Government takes up a majority of expenses with 34 percent for government services – administration, tax assessor/collector, coroner, buildings and ground, elections, veterans services and more, while 29 percent goes towards the Public Works Department, that includes road and solid waste service and 16 percent is for Public Safety, which includes the sheriff’s department, the detention center and emergency response services.

The Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department’s proposed budget is $3.7 million and an additional $3.1 million for the Detention Center. The Road and Bridge budget is $3.5 million and the Sanitation Department’s budget is $2.8 million.

The county has $12 million in roll-over funds and is projected to earn another $15 million in revenues from taxes and permits.