Public hearing scheduled to discuss budget with no tax increase

by Associated Press

Published: August 14,2013

Tags: budget, city, city council, city government, City of Gulfport, deficit, municipal, municipality, Scott Wilson, tax

GULFPORT — The city council plans a Sept. 3 public hearing on a 2014 budget proposal that includes no tax increase and holds spending at about $53 million for the general fund.

The Sun Herald reports the proposal projects a deficit of more than 106,000 by the end of fiscal year 2014, less than half the deficit expected for 2013.

However, comptroller Scott Wilson said a 1 percent in sales tax collections is projected and it could be even more if upward retail trends continue.

The city also plans no increase in water or sewer rates.

The overall financial condition of the city can be described as “continued stagnation,” an introduction to the budget prepared for the council said. “The uncertainty of the national economy and the federal government’s remedy of this problem is hampering private investment, which, in turn, results in little to no growth in city revenues.”

Wilson said the stagnation mostly comes from a $700,000 drop in property-tax revenue in 2013 due to Harrison County’s reappraisal, a decrease that will continue until significant growth occurs or a re-evaluation raises values.

Contributions to the state retirement system and insurance costs have increased, and federal grant funding is down, Wilson said.

The city’s workforce has been trimmed by 16 percent since 2009. All departments have fewer employees, with the exception of the mayor’s office and city council.

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