Pascagoula adopts 2019 budget, includes tax increase

Budget passes with a 4-3 vote

Pascagoula adopts 2019 budget, includes tax increase
Pascagoula Thursday night voted in the 2019 fiscal year budget

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - City leaders in Pascagoula officially voted in the 2019 fiscal year budget Thursday night. It passed with a 4-3 vote.

Council members Jennifer Colmer, Matt Parker, and Rev. Dr. Willie C. Jones all voted no to the proposed budget.

“We’re in a tough time right here and I can tell you, from all the people that I’ve spoke with, I don’t think the city can afford a 14 mill plus increase," said Ward 4 representative Matt Parker. "You add the school district tax to this, it’s going to put almost all our taxes over 30 percent higher... I can’t support it at this time.”

At-large council woman Jennifer Colmer also voiced concerns, saying she was not provided with the documentation that would allow her to make a fully informed decision.

The new budget allows for a 14.45 mill increase, which will bring the total millage rate for the city up to 56.50 mills.

City spokesperson Lauri Ellen Smith said more layoffs aren’t anticipated. To date, the city has eliminated 41 positions. That includes layoffs due to the $14 million budget deficit, unfilled positions and early retirement.

Other issues that have previously been voted on and will be included in the 2019 budget include merit raise freezes and increasing employee contribution for health insurance. The mayor, along with some council members, have also forfeited their salaries amid the deficit.

The city will also be saving around $100,000 thanks to the Pascagoula-Gautier School District, who offered to cover the costs of the school crossin guards.

“The fact that the school board stepped up and took on the responsibility of those crossing guards affected about a $100,000 savings," Smith said.

City leaders thanked residents for participating in what they call a hard decision.

“I think you will see, moving forward, we’re going to work harder to explain to the public what it all means,” said Smith.

The city does have a millage calculator on its website so residents can plug in the numbers and see how much more they’ll pay with this increase. Click here to view it. You can also review the detailed 2019 budget here.

Watch Thursday night’s meeting in full here:

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.