Raises in store for R’land workers with 2018 budgetBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
Ridgeland city officials recently adopted the 2018 budget that includes raises for all employes except the mayor and board of aldermen.
Almost every department will have a personnel budget increase, and the city has several capital projects in the works.
The total budget for the next fiscal year is $23,451,621, a decrease from last year’s $24,649,363. However, the city will be spending at a $1.178 million deficit.
Mayor Gene McGee said the city’s reserve fund remains strong.
“The reserve fund has not gone below our policy and continues to be strong,” he said. “Through conservative spending, we have never done anything to hurt our fund balance. In fact, it is one of the strongest in the state.”
“We did get a one percent (raise), except the mayor and board and part-time personnel,” Paula Tierce, director of finance administration, said.
Major departments that will have a budget increase are judicial ($55,966), financial administration ($11,044), parks and recreation ($169,325), and library funds ($2,566).
The judicial department’s increase comes mainly from personnel and supplies. The financial administration department also has an increased budget, with a large portion of the funds in personnel. The parks and recreation department increase is found in personnel as well as capital funds. The library will have an increased budget due to more money in services.
The departments that will see a budget decrease include the mayor and board ($13,957), community development ($255,938), general government ($293,127), public works ($646, 862), police ($95,543), and fire ($327,748).
McGee said sales tax should be level and property taxes should increase.
“We are projecting sales tax to be level, and we are projecting a three percent property tax growth.”
The city is not planning any major expenditures through the general fund but has several capital projects in the works, according to McGee.
Last month, the mayor said the city set aside $1 million for street overlay.
“We have a five-year overlay plan, which public works updates each year to be sure that the streets that need it most get overlaid. We have about $1 million in the street overlay budget.”
The capital projects include the Lake Harbour Drive extension project, the first phase of the new city center and city hall, the County Line Road and the east Lake Harbour Drive mill and overlay projects, as well as the south Highland Colony Parkway project.
Once the Lake Harbour Drive extension is complete, Lake Harbour will stretch an extra two miles from its current intersection with Highway 51. It will run over the interstate to the corner of New Point Drive and Highland Colony Parkway. The $26 million project has an estimated construction timeline of 12 to 18 months.
Officials anticipate the Ridgeland city center costing approximately $42 million.
The County Line Road mill and overlay project will cost a total of $1.35 million, which will be split equally between Ridgeland and Jackson ($675,000 each).
The east Lake Harbour Drive mill and overlay will cost a total of $2.3 million. The city will mill, overlay, restripe, and upgrade traffic signals from Breaker’s Lane to Northpark Drive. City officials said the city has already received a $1.7 million grant from the metropolitan planning organization (MPO), and that overall, only $425,000 will come from local funds.
City officials have estimated the Highland Colony Parkway project to cost approximately $425,000, “which is out to bid and should be done in the 2018 budget year,” McGee aid.
Each fiscal year ends on September 31 of the current year, and the next fiscal year begins the next day on October 1. Fiscal year 2017 began October 1, 2016, and will end on September 31. Fiscal year 2018 will begin on October 1, 2017, and end September 31, 2018.
Ridgeland’s budget can be found at www.northsidesun.com.