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Jackson mayor presents budget proposal to council; property tax increase, furloughs included

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JACKSON, Mississippi — Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber's proposed budget includes an 8 percent increase in property taxes along with furloughs and a hiring freeze.

The mayor's plan includes an 8 percent hike in property taxes, which if approved, would mean the owner of a house valued at $100,000 would pay $51 more a year in property taxes.

According to local media reports, a mayor's aide told council members that without the increase in property taxes, the city would take in about $600,000 less in revenue.

City Councilwoman Margaret Barrett Simon suggested waiting to implement a property tax increase.

"We're having a lot of economic development projects going on that are going to be really bringing a lot of people into the city more than ever, and if we could just hold off on this tax increase until we can get some of that in place, I think things may take care of themselves," she said.

The mayor wants to increases fines for traffic violations and fees charged to keep cars in the city impound lot. There would also be no new vehicles purchased by the city for two years.

Yarber also proposed large increases in permits for fire inspections and fireworks displays and boosting the fee for room rental at Smith Robertson Museum from $93 to $750.

"We've got bills that are coming due," Yarber said. "We've borrowed money, and now, the city has to look at how we pay that money back. Those bills are coming due this fiscal year."

Also, the city is trying to make up an estimated gap of $15 million in what department heads say they need to operate and the estimated revenue from property taxes that the city will receive for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

City Council President Melvin Priester Jr. said the council will spend the next month having budget hearings.

"We'll go over expenses with a fine toothed comb," Priester said.

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