MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The City Hall in Moss Point was filled to capacity Wednesday night at a public meeting being held to discuss a potential tax increase. In fact, so many people showed up to voice their opinions that city officials were forced to hold a second meeting.
Amid the talks of a tax increase, the big question of the night was whether the mayor and aldermen would get raises. Last month, the mayor presented a plan to cut positions and increase salaries for other city employees. During that meeting, he proposed raising his salary and the salary of board members.
Wednesday night, Mayor Mario King said that’s no longer on the table. Now, the board is pushing for raises for police and fire.
“You cut some people, but then you’re raising other people," added former Moss Point Alderman Shirley Chamber.
The mayor has said the city also plans to cut four non-essential positions.
Hundreds filled City Hall for the budget meeting, with most expressing overwhelming disapproval against a tax hike. Mayor King started each session by giving information on revenue, how it’s earned, and how much the city spends each month. Then it was time for the public to comment. Each person was allowed to speak for two minutes.
“I haven’t heard enough about why you need more money,” one resident said.
Another one asked, “But the utilities, what are we looking at for a range for the utilities?”
Utilities would increase by $3.20 for the first 3,000 gallons; $1.50 per thousand after that.
So why the extra money? The city said revenue has fallen over the past year so the increase is to cover the city’s bills.
“I think our city needs to spend our money on better things like cleaning up this city," said Moss Point business owner William Kibby.
If the tax hike is approved, Mayor King said the millage increase of 5.42 would bring in about $400,000 into the general fund. However, the city is offering a break on property taxes to those over 65 and those who are disabled.
The final budget will be voted in on Sept. 18.