Desoto County News

Millage increase among Southaven budget options

Southaven property taxpayers are facing the city’s first millage increase in more than 15 years when the next fiscal year begins.

At least, it’s a possibility when the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Darren Musselwhite hold a budget hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Final adoption is scheduled to take place the following Tuesday, Sept. 12.

On the table is a millage increase of three mills as a possible item to cover the city budget in Fiscal Year 2023-24. A millage hike would the city’s first increase since 2006, according to Musselwhite, who commented to DeSoto County News Tuesday morning, Aug. 29.

Musselwhite said inflationary challenges has made the process of determining the budget priorities especially difficult this year.

“We’ve landed on two final proposals,” Musselwhite said. “One meets the needs of all of our departments, including our largest department, Police and keeps the millage rate the same as it has been since 2006, but would require a cut in the second largest budget line behind payroll, street resurfacing. The other funds all departments, including the Police and the new ‘Operation: Close the Door’ and funds street resurfacing adequately. It requires an increase adjustment to the millage rate for three mills.”

Operation: Close the Door was a recently announced move by Musselwhite that includes increased funding for the police department and the growth of the police force over the past four years. The move is meant to be a deterrent to spillover crime into Southaven from Memphis.

“We’ve increased police funding from $11,443,851 in 2014 to a projected $19,367,256 in 2024 (69.24 percent increase) and police officer growth by 36 percent in just the last four years,” Musselwhite wrote in a blog post announcing the program. “We will make data-driven decisions and allocate new resources to our Stateline Enforcement Team to secure the north-south arterial entrances to our city.”

If enacted, Southaven would become the only city to raise millage, as Horn Lake, Hernando and Olive Branch are not increasing millage. DeSoto County and the DeSoto County School District have also chosen not to hike millage rates as it crafts its budget.

The Southaven aldermen will hold a budget hearing as part of its regularly-scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5. A special meeting has been set for 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 to approve the budget, which must be done by Sept. 15, according to state law. The new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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