Southaven Board of Aldermen adopted a $87 million spending plan for 2022 that includes more money for police officers and street overlays.
The FY’22 budget includes the same millage rate and no rate increases for utilities and sanitation, and is down from last year’s nearly $95 million budget.
“We had no property tax millage increases, no utility and sanitation increases,” said finance director Edi McIlwaine.
McIlwaine said the general fund for FY’22 is higher that it was in FY’22 - $57.2 million compared to $51.6 million in 2021 - because the city paid off more of its debt and had issued bonds that were included in last year’s budget.
The debt service fund is $5.4 million, down from $6.5 million in 2021.
Southaven’s continued growth also resulted in the highest sales tax figures in the city’s history, McIlwaine said.
“Our sales tax from 2012 was a little over $12 million,” McIlwaine said. “Through August of fiscal year 2021, we are already over $15 million and we anticipate it to be over $16 million.”
The city’s tourism revenue is also up - $2.5 million compared to $2.3 million.
“Our tourism tax has been doing fantastic this year,” McIlwaine said. “We use that money to pay for the soccer fields, but this year 2022 I think we will have extra to cover some additional maintenance items that need to be done.”
McIlwaine said the city’s assessed property value has also increased every year and currently is valued at just under $700 million, which she expects will continue to remain strong into the future.
“I feel like that will probably grow by fiscal year 2023 with all of the construction we have going on,” McIlwaine said.
The city’s millage rate has remained flat at 43.73 mils since 2009. McIlwaine said this year the city is using only 18 percent of its millage rate today toward debt service. The other 82 percent is going toward the general fund.
“We are right in line with the other municipalities in the county on our millage,” McIlwaine said.
Among the areas benefiting from increased funding in this year’s budget is public safety. Mayor Darren Musselwhite said the city is investing an additional $26 million, which includes money for 15 new police officers, 13 police vehicles, 4 additional dispatches, two new fire vehicles, plus a new ambulance.
"We've had a four year police officer expansion plan which include the growth by 15 new positions as well as strategic pay adjustments in our Police and all other departments," Musselwhite said. " Our Fire Department has significant equipment needs which have also been met."
The city will also be spending $3 million for street maintenance. Major capital improvement projects include Getwell Road widening project from Church Road to Star Landing; construction of Fire Station 5; and the Medline Pepperchase Drive extension.
Musselwhite said his administration and the Board of Aldermen have made disciplined decisions over the last eight years which have helped reduce debt and freed up more money to be spent in other areas of the budget.
The city has also invested in the promotion of development within the city which has led to record sales and property tax revenues
"This is now allowing us, with no property tax rate increases, to expand our general fund and make more aggressive allocations to public safety and infrastructure improvement," Musselwhite said.
Alderman At Large George Payne said he believes the 2021 spending plan is a good one.
“I just wanted to thank (Mayor Darren Musselwhite) and Edi and all our department heads for the fantastic job you have done over the past years and this year on the budget,” Payne said.