Job cuts, higher taxes part of Pass Christian budget

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - For years, a major chunk of Pass Christian's revenues comes from Ad Valorem taxes. Even though the city now has 1,700 homes, many people have not rebuilt. And that's a big hit on the city's budget.

"All the cities have the same problem. We're spending more than we're taking in, and we're at a point now where we're going to have to get even," said Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott.

Two years ago, after property reappraisal, the city cut the millage rate by nearly nine mills.

"We may have cut a little deeper than we normally would have," said the mayor. "We cut 8.92 mills. Had we cut 4, it would have looked like a genius, but I wasn't a genius when I started this thing."

Even with additional sales taxes from Wal-Mart, the city is still faces a $600,000 shortfall next year. So city leaders are looking at raising the millage rate by four-mills. The move, the mayor said, would raise about $418,000 a year.

"Any time you raise taxes, people are going to be concerned about that and economic downturn and everything can go wrong has been the oil spill and everything like that. But nonetheless, cities still have to keep on going," he said.

In addition to the tax hike, the city plans to cut three positions: a clerk in the Parks & Recreation Department, a Code Office Clerk and a patrol officer vacancy in the police department won't be filled.

"We're going to have to bring in the rest of the taxes to get us even," said McDermott. "We all lived on grants and different money that we received in the last couple of years. We're still going to be under where we were before."

Mayor McDermott said the budget woes will change when more homes and businesses return to the Pass.

"So we're doing everything we can to try to keep the people, the best we can do for them, and at the same time, let the city grow," said McDermott.

Here's how a four-mill increase could impact you. If you own a home in Pass Christian valued at $100,000, you could pay an extra $40 a year in property taxes.

The city will hold a public hearing on the budget proposal. It will be held on September 7, at 6:00 PM in the city court building on Hiern Avenue. The city must adopt the budget by September 15th.

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