By Errol Castens
OXFORD – While several department heads say they’re controlling most costs, some city officials say they may need to raise taxes for the 2014-15 fiscal year.
The city faces having to clean up a decades-old dumpsite, furnish its in-progress fire station, do major repairs to its pool and buy new equipment in several departments. The biggest single financial outlays proposed for 2014-15, however, are the extension of West Oxford Loop from Anderson Road to Old Sardis Road and the extension of current County Road 300, which would connect Old Taylor Road and South Lamar Boulevard in an area just annexed by the city.
Mayor George “Pat” Patterson is pushing for increased pay for city employees.
“We’re shooting for a two-percent raise. I’ve told you from the front that you need to account for that,” Patterson told several department heads on Monday.
Alderman Ulysses “Coach” Howell argued for a break for local property owners, noting a new $30 million school district bond two years ago and a county revaluation that hiked city taxes last year.
“We need a little relief time to get over that,” he said.
When several board members discussed raising taxes by 1.5 mills this year and taking on a 3-mill bond debt next year for roads and other infrastructure, Patterson urged caution.
“A (nearly) five-mill raise in two years is a pretty substantial raise,” he said.
Alderman Jason Bailey countered that a 1.5-mill increase would be $30 extra on a $200,000 house.
“That’s $2.50 a month,” he said. “We’re raising taxes, but the reality is, it’s not going to hit you that much.”
Alderman Preston Taylor said he would welcome street improvements that a tax increase could fund.
“I get lots of complaints about the traffic. They can’t develop (in some neighborhoods) because of traffic on Jackson Avenue,” he said.