Hattiesburg, Mississippi – With a unanimous vote by the Hattiesburg City Council, the Fiscal Year 2021 budget was passed during a special called meeting on Tuesday, September 15. It is the City’s first structurally-balanced general fund budget in 10 years.
The $59 million general fund budget, presented to the council the week before, highlights the following:
- Investment in infrastructure. For the second year, the city is putting $400,000 toward drainage projects, as well as approximately $2.7 million for paving. Additionally, the city will see the benefits of the second phase of the internet sales tax passed by the Mississippi Legislature in 2018.
- Salary increases in several departments. Sworn police and fire personnel will receive their regular step raises. The minimum wage will increase to $12/hour for crew workers in both the Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments, $15/hour for sanitation and transit drivers and $15/hour for shop mechanics. The minimum wage in the Water & Sewer Department, which is supported by a special enterprise fund paid for mainly by water rates, will increase to $14/hour.
- Conservative revenue outlook. The city set its forecast for sales tax diversions, which is the largest share of city revenue, at the final Fiscal Year 20 level, which is below both the Fiscal Year 18 and Fiscal Year 19 levels. This accounts for the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19’s potential effects on the Hattiesburg economy going forward. Furthermore, there was no increase to city millage or to city water rates for FY 21.
“While past budgets always worked out by way of not spending as much as intended or not filling positions, passing a structurally-balanced budget – where projected revenues match projected expenses – is a responsible way to budget taxpayer dollars. In addition to being up to date on our audits, getting our bond rating back (and retained), the passing of this budget is a hallmark milestone for our administration and the City Council,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “This year (and the years prior) included a lot of hard decisions; but, I am proud of our team’s diligent approach to getting our city back on a financially-stable footing.”