From the Desk of the Gazette City Editor: Magnolia City Board Approves 2021 – 2022 Budget

A public hearing for the 2021-2022 budget was held on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at 4:30pm in the Magnolia City Hall Meeting room. Only one Magnolia citizen showed up – me (as a taxpaying resident and as The Magnolia Gazette city reporter). This public hearing was significantly different from the past Magnolia budget hearings that I’ve attended. It was open, transparent, and lots of dialogue between the Board members present, Mayor Witherspoon, and the City Clerk, Tasha Dillion. Alderman Darrell Pounds was not present for the public hearing but showed up for the Board meeting that followed and started at 5:30 pm.
Budget discussions centered around the priorities of the city. The city’s Police budget increased by 7%, the Fire Department increased by 9%, and the Public Works/Street Department increased by 16% from the 2020-2021 budgets. Most of the other budget line items remained generally at the same levels or decreased slightly. Alderman Cornacchione did note that since his 8 years of being on the Board the Police Department has increased significantly (over 40%) and the Streets budget has had a net decrease in those years. Mayor Witherspoon had run on a platform of cleaning up Magnolia. The new budget increases the Beautification Budget Line Item and does increase Streets maintenance. Aldermen Burton and Cornacchione emphasized the need to increase and improve the public works department with additional staffing and better equipment to meet the challenges of keeping the city maintained. A discussion continued as to maintenance of the Magnolia Library but not decisions were made.
City Editor’s Note: The Magnolia Library has been a pain-point for a number of months because the city’s previous Mayor Pro-Tem Becky Magee would not meet with the County Supervisors to discuss the joint responsibilities. It appears that Mayor Witherspoon will set up that discussion now that a new administration is in place.
Also of note in this year’s budget of $3.599M (an increase over the $2.122M from the 2020-2021 budget) is the inclusion of $1.3M in state grants. These grants are the $500K for the Police and Fire Department Building; $250K for the Community Center renovation; and $500K for CARES ACT state distribution to the City. So the net General Budget increase, removing the grants is $179K. With respect to the CARES ACT funds, the city is still working with the state to determine what exactly the funds can be spent on.
It’s especially important to note that the city tax millage rate (currently 41 mills) will not be increased this year. Mayor Witherspoon and the Board were successful in managing the 2021-2022 budget within our current city’s tax base.
City Editor’s Note: To see how Magnolia and Pike County compare to other cities and counties with respect to City, County, and School tax rates go to www.dor.ms.gov/property.
Following the public hearing for the budget, the City Board Meeting convened and the Board approved the budget of $3.599, 078 for the General Fund and $1.385,762 for the Utility Fund (Water and Sewer).
The next monthly Board meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 5, with a Working session scheduled for the prior Thursday, Sept. 30. Both meetings are set for 5:30 pm. I would encourage Magnolia residents and citizens to attend and get involved with letting our Mayor and Aldermen/ Alderwoman know your concerns, needs, and priorities!

by Terry Jackson, Gazette City Editor – [email protected]

on September 22, 2021, 1:16 pm

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