Olive Branch budget proposal presented

Olive Branch Mayor Ken Adams outlined the city’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, held in the Olive Branch Municipal Court building. The mayor outlined what’s ahead for the city during a public hearing.

One of the highlights is a paving project Adams said will cost about $6.4 million. 

“The 2022 paving project is an all-time high for the city of Olive Branch,”Adams said. “It’s the largest paving project the city has ever done.” 

The project is being covered through $1 million in general revenue money, state funds, use tax diversion from the 2018 infrastructure modernization fund and a $5 million general obligation bond. 

The budget would also include a three-percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all employees, other than part-time, seasonal employees. 

“This is the first COLA adjustment in two-and-a-half years for our city team members,” Adams said. 

Pay raises are also coming to Olive Branch police officers with Adams stating, “this will put our uniformed police officers at the top of the pay scale for all law enforcement agencies in DeSoto County. This will help with recruiting and retaining our law enforcement professionals.” 

Adams said the city plans to hire 33 full-time and eight part-time employees in the next fiscal year with 24 of the full-time additions and three part-timers to specifically address the newly annexed areas of the city.  

Six of those new employees are pegged to be uniformed police officers, along with six fire department paramedics.

Funding allocated to the city through COVID-19 recovery funds of $9.5 million are earmarked to go to water and sewer improvements.

Olive Branch property owners will be happy to know that the millage rate to pay for the city’s operations in the next fiscal year will stay the same; there will be no increase for the city’s portion of the property tax bill.  

No one spoke for or against the budget proposal at Tuesday’s budget hearing. Aldermen are to vote on the proposal during the board’s Sept. 7 meeting. A municipal budget for the next fiscal year is required by law to be in place by Sept. 15 before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, 2021. 

In other action Tuesday, aldermen approved an amendment to the city loitering ordinance which effectively seeks to remove basketball goals that are now standing at a street’s curb in residential areas. There have been concerns brought to the city about that, with the goals and with players blocking traffic in those areas.

“There is a section in there about obstructing public roadways,” said City Attorney Bryan Dye. “So, that’s the connection to the loitering ordinance. This could have been put in any one of a couple different areas, but the loitering ordinance probably was the most logical place to put it. This is in response to contacts that you have received at the last meeting.” 

This would also include sidewalks, as sidewalks are part of a public right-of-way.

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