Olive Branch aldermen Tuesday night held a public hearing on the city’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget and moved to set a vote on the budget at the first board meeting in September, ahead of a state-mandated Oct. 1 deadline for municipal budgets to be set.
There was no public comment on the budget proposal Tuesday evening, which came after a seven-hour special meeting on Aug. 9 to determine budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.
Mayor Ken Adams said restructuring the compensation package for firefighters was among his top priorities, saying an improved pay package for firefighters keeps them competitive with other departments.
Olive Branch addressed compensation in the police department in the current fiscal year, which will end on Sept. 30.
Other priorities are in the 2023 paving project, Stennis Compensation Study adjustments and requests related to the newly-annexed areas of Olive Branch.
Adams provided the following additional highlights of the proposed city budget:
- Capital requests totaled $60,624,131 and of those requests $50,957,126 are recommended for approval
- Of the 31 new full-time positions recommended for approval, 24 are requested specifically to help serve the newly annexed area
- Includes an unprecedented street paving budget of $10,860,000 consisting of $6,960,000 budgeted in 2022 that will not be used by year end and an additional $3,900,000. The majority of this project is currently out to bid. Adams said citizens will be pleased when they start seeing roadway improvements.
- $9,569,276 in Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds have been awarded to the City and all of it is budgeted for water and sewer infrastructure improvements outlined in the newly annexed area
- $566,000 is included to enhance the city’s Information Technology network and enhance security to protect stored information
- The breakdown of the FY ‘2023 proposed budget by categories:
Capital Expense: $ 50,957,126
Debt Service: $ 5,585,774
Operations: $ 77,911,266
Total Expense: $134,454,166
- All of this is accomplished with no proposed increase in the City’s millage rate of 38.5 mills, the lowest of all the major cities in DeSoto County.
Adams thanked Chief Financial Officer Jason May and Chief Operating Officer Todd Ondra for helping the Board of Aldermen get through in seven hours what other cities take several days to work through.
Among other items at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting, the city will pay $62,000, or 10 percent of the cost, to upgrade all 17 of the city’s emergency notification sirens in neighborhoods. Those sirens are now considered to be state of the art equipment. The total cost to upgrade the sirens is $622,000 with the remaining money coming from a grant.
During the board meeting, the mayor also thanked the voters for their overwhelming support of the “People for the Parks” hotel tax levy vote earlier in the month. It was passed by over 90 percent of those who voted, vastly more than the 60 percent approval that was needed to pass the local private special tax.