The City of Petal has again passed a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2022, with approximately $9.83 million in both expenditures and revenues and no increase for ad valorem rates for taxpayers.
The budget, which was passed at the Sept. 7 meeting of the Petal Board of Aldermen, is an increase of about $1.4 million in revenues and expenditures from the previous fiscal year, and features the second half of a pay raise for police officers that was granted last year. The new budget will take effect Oct. 1.
“We’re expecting to bring in a smaller number, but obviously you can’t print money, so the money has to come from somewhere,” Mayor Tony Ducker said. “But over the last few budgets, we’ve been able to come in under budget, which really helped us.
“There was a tax evaluation, and basically our growth - a mill of property in town - went from $97,000 to to around $113,000. And then you’ve got the 3 percent (restaurant tax that was recently approved) as well that’s factored into this. We took a pretty conservative approach, when it comes to adding revenue on that side of it, so hopefully if everything goes just average, I think we can have even a better conversation next year."
The budget features a total millage of 106.69, which includes - but is not limited to - 40.13 mills for general revenue purposes and 55 mills for the Petal School District. That total millage is the same as the previous fiscal year’s budget, which means taxpayers will not see an automatic increase on their property taxes.
A mill, which is used to determine the rate of property taxes, is equivalent to a hundredth of a dime or a tenth of a cent.
“That probably adds another $600,000 or $700,000,” Ducker said. “You’re estimating probably $1.5 million when it’s all said and done, from the 3 percent (tax) to the valuation.
“Obviously, there’s the desire to look long-range and make it less expensive to live here, and that’ll be a discussion for the board at some point. There’s several things that you pay into the city; one, for instance, you pay property taxes. Also, you’ve got water and sewer bills that are always a point of contention; you could maybe address those things over the next several years.”
Of the city’s total budget for the general fund, $57,362 will go toward aldermen, $305,287 will go to judicial and $131,248 will go to the executive session. Public safety breaks down as follows: $2.84 million for the police department, $2.91 million the fire department and $319,933 for buildings and inspections.
Approximately $1.81 million is allocated to streets and highways, while the senior center will receive $120,588 and the Petal Civic Center will receive $110,422.
“I do like us not getting overly aggressive on the front end,” Ducker said. “Let’s make sure these numbers stick, so whatever we do will have a lasting effect we can replicate in future years.”
The additional 3 percent tax increase at Petal restaurants, which was approved by voters in August, is expected to bring approximately $750,000 in extra revenue to the city each year. Under the tax increase, an individual paying a $10 tab at a Petal restaurant will pay an extra 30 cents on that bill.
The funds raised from the tax will go toward the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, which will allow the city to maintain that department at its current level. That, in turn, will free up money in the city’s fund that could be used for measures such as the police department, fire department or infrastructure.
“We didn’t win the lottery; we still have to watch how we spend our money,” Ducker said. “If not, we’ll be right back in the same situations we’ve been in over the last few years.
“We do a Shop Petal First; I’d love to see something where we do an ‘Eat Petal First’ program as well. We can’t forget about our restaurants.”
A similar sales tax measure was passed in Hattiesburg in early 2019, when voters overwhelmingly approved an additional 1 percent sales tax at Hub City restaurants, hotels and motels. The funds from that measure are currently going toward several Parks and Recreation Department projects around the city, including a splash pad in Palmers Crossing, an extension of the walking trail at Duncan Lake and the addition of batting cages at Vernon Dahmer Park.