| By Jason C. Mattox
Sardis’ tax millage rate and garbage collection fees will increase as a result of a decision by the mayor and board of aldermen at their budget planning meeting last Thursday. The increased revenue will help the city meet its proposed $1.2 million budget.
Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn made the unanimously passed motions to increase garbage collection fees from $14 to $17 and to increase the city’s millage rate from 31.07 to 34.92.
The $3 increase to garbage rates will bring in an additional $25,000.
"We need to go up $3 just to break even on garbage," Scallorn said.
"With the rising cost of fuel, it’s easy to justify needing an increase," Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said. "There hasn’t been an increase in fees for quite some time, and if we are going to do it, now is the time."
The mayor explained that the trend has been to leave the ad valorem taxes the same.
"I don’t think there has been a tax increase in a number of years, and if we are going to balance the budget, we need one," Dye said. "None of us want to do it, but it looks like it might be the only option we have."
"The way I see it, we are about $50,000 short on the revenue side," he said. "Raising taxes and the garbage fees will get us to where we need to be."
There will be no cost of living increases for city employees during the upcoming budget cycle.
"We have been pretty generous with raises in the past," Dye said. "We just can’t afford to do it this year."
Another item in this year’s budget that remained the same from last year is police fines.
"We budgeted the same amount for police fines this year ($130,000), because we felt like that was a fair amount," City Clerk Odessa Johnson said.
Scallorn said he believed the city could collect that money in fines.
"There was one time in the past the city collected more than $200,000 in fines," he said referring to a year he served as city clerk. "So, I feel like that number is attainable."
Police Chief Mike Davis said he believed more fines would be collected this year.
"We have been sending in the names to the Mississippi Warrant Network, and we have been getting some results," he said. "Add that to what we are doing on our own, and things are going to improve."
The city must adopt its budget by September 15.