Christmas parade to be held November 30

The City of Collins will hold its annual Christmas parade on Thursday, November 30 at 6:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Magical, Musical Christmas.” Individuals and groups interested in participating in the parade are invited to enter by contacting city hall. Parade organizers are asking businesses, churches, schools and organizations to participate in this year’s parade. In addition to floats, 4-wheelers, trucks, cars and golf carts are permitted to enter. Due to safety concerns, walkers will not be permitted to participate in the parade with the exception of bands, color guards and the Camp Shelby Youth Challenge group. Entry forms for the parade are available at Collins City Hall and online at www.cityofcollins.com. Floats will be judged for creativity, personalization and spirit of Christmas. Awards will be given for first, second and third place. For more information, contact City Hall at 601-765-4491.

CCH to host annual Trick-Or-Trot 5K run/walk on Oct. 26

Covington County Hospital will host its annual Trick-or-Trot 5K Run/Walk on Thursday, October 26 at 6:30 p.m. The race will begin at the main entrance parking lot of the hospital and is a fundraiser to the hospital’s Relay for Life team. The pre-registration fee is $30 with the race night registration fee being $35. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to come dressed in their best costumes and prepared for a great time! For more information about the run or sponsoring the event, contact event organizer Missy Lott at 601-698-0153 or visit www.facebook.com/covingtoncountyhospital.

Aldermen set budget for new year

The City of Collins Board of Aldermen has approved its budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning October 1, 2017. The city’s millage rate has been set at 14.5 mills. According to City Clerk Suzette Davis, 11 mills goes into the city’s general fund and 3.5 mills goes into its garbage service.

“There has not been a tax increase in the city’s millage for well over 20 years,” Davis said. “General property taxes include current ad valorem taxes, real property and personal property, auto ad valorem taxes, prior year ad valorem taxes and road maintenance taxes. All of those put together make up general property taxes that we collect in revenue.”

The City of Collins saw an increase in tax revenue due to a Sanderson Farm tax exemption that expired this year putting them back on the tax roll.

“That is tax revenue that the city will begin receiving this year,” said Davis. “Also, Woolwine Ford Lincoln was added to our tax roll as new growth because they expanded. That’s where our increase in revenue comes from in our general property taxes.”

Davis added that the Board of Aldermen did not vote to increase the city taxes.

“There was not a millage increase,” she said.

A public hearing was advertised outlining that that taxpayers would not pay more on their homes, automobile tags, utilities, business fixtures, equipment, rental property unless the assessed value of the property has increased.

“We don’t assess here in the city any values. Those assessments come from the county,” said Davis. “We set our millage, and they have somebody who comes and assesses property values.”

This year’s total budget is $11,108,493 in anticipated revenue as compared to last year’s budget which was $9,867,468. The difference in the budget is the projection of increased tax revenue for the upcoming year.

Also outlined in the budget was an increase in the budget for the Board of Aldermen.

“Every time new leadership is elected, they can vote to increase their salaries,” said Davis. “They voted to increase the salaries of the Aldermen by $200 going from $1,200 per month to $1,400 per month.”

Davis said that salary is set for the next four years.

“That’s around an $18,000 increase in that budget, and it should stay the same for the next four years unless there’s an increase in insurance or conference fees or anything like that,” Davis continued.

The Mayor’s budget also saw an increase for the upcoming year. Davis explained that previous Mayor V.O. Smith retired in June of 2016 which meant he went on a reduced salary per year.

“He could only make 25 percent of his retiree’s average compensation which is set by PERS (Public Employee’s Retirement System),” said Davis. “That is set and we have nothing to do with that.”

Davis said it is different for an elected official than it is for an employee.

“There is no wait time. As long as they are age 62 and above, they don’t have to have a withdrawal period,” she said. According to Davis, if Smith had continued to work, his salary would have been $60,028. “Mayor Jones came in making $60,000 per year,” Davis said, “so her salary is in line with what has been done before.”

Collins Fire Department adds new pumper truck to its fleet

The Collins Fire Department is adding another truck to its fleet thanks to a contribution by Kinder Morgan. The petroleum company with an operation in Covington County contributed the new foam pumper truck to the department. It will be added to the department’s industrial fire response divisions fleet. The truck, which had previously served at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Tank Farm & Bremen, Georgia Tank Farm was transferred to the department earlier this year. The specialized foam truck will allow the department to better serve and respond to incidents at the tank farms and terminals and any incidents involving flammable liquids. “We are delighted to give back to a community where we have operated for over 70 years and that our employees call home. The City of Collins Fire Department provides a great public service and we hope the donation of this fire truck helps them in their critical mission,” said Steve Polk, Manager, Operations. Collins Fire Chief John Pope agreed the donation was much appreciated. “We are proud to serve our community and our petroleum industry partners with the best possible response capabilites,” said Pope.

Mayor Hope Jones, Board of Aldermen sworn in

New Collins Mayor Hope Jones and the Board of Aldermen to the Oath of Office on Monday, July 3.  Pictured, from left, are Ward Three Alderman Sally Buffington; Alderman At Large Bobby Mooney; Mayor Hope Jones; Ward Two Alderman Robert Thompson; Ward Four Alderman Debbie Lundy and Ward One Alderman Lester Magee.

City Leaders to take Oath of Office on July 3

City leaders in Collins will take the Oath of Office over before beginning their four-year terms.

The ceremony will be held on Monday, July 3 at 5 p.m. at the Civic Center. The Aldermen taking the Oath alongside new Mayor Hope Magee Jones include Bobby Mooney, Lester Magee, Robert Thompson, Sally Buffington and Debbie Lundy.

Mayor Smith to be honored for service to City of Collins

As Collins Mayor V.O. Smith nears the end of his term, many have gathered to honor his legacy with the city.
At the Mississippi Municipal League meeting held June 19, Smith was celebrated for his hard work and dedication to not only the City of Collins, but the Mississippi Municipal Service Company and the Mississippi Municipal League during the last three decades.
Officials with the City of Collins will host a dedication ceremony for the V.O. Smith Courtyard located on Main Street next door to City Hall. The ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 29 at 6:30 p.m. with special acknowledgements to be given.
Light refreshments will be served.