City of Collins recognizes Municipal Government Week

The City of Collins is proud to join the Mississippi Municipal League and its 295 member municipalities across the State of Mississippi in celebration of Municipal Government Week, January 14-20, 2018.

City government is, without question, the government closest to the people. At a time when people nationwide seem to have less faith in their government, we in municipal government want to be sure the people here at home are aware of the critical services we provide.

Over 50% of Mississippi citizens live in a city, town, or village. In addition, thousands more rely on cities for places of employment, professional services and retail trade centers. These citizens look to us to provide important services such as police and fire protection, garbage pick-up, street and sidewalk maintenance, electric, water and sewer service, parks and recreational services, and much more. It is a constant challenge for Collins to provide such services within our budget and in the face of requirements imposed on us by other levels of government.

During the current legislative session, the City of Collins will join municipalities across the state in support of a bill that would increase the amount of sales tax diverted back to each city by the State of Mississippi. This increase in sales tax revenue must be used for street, water and sewer improvements. The best part of this proposed plan is that our city will receive additional revenue without increasing anyone’s taxes.

Even in challenging times, I believe that our elected officials and employees are doing a great job in meeting the needs of our citizens. I am proud of our city’s record and look forward to the opportunity to showcase our services during Municipal Government Week. Please visit our website at (cityofcollins.com), like our official Facebook page or call City Hall at (601) 765-4491 if you have questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Suzette Davis City Clerk

Reindeer Games to be held Dec. 7

The Main Street Merchants in the City of Collins will host the “Reindeer Games” on Main Street on Thursday, December 7 from 5:30-8 p.m. The event is designed to bring families out along Main Street to enjoy the Christmas season. There will be plenty of activities for children as well as shopping and dining throughout the evening. Guests are invited to stroll Main Street and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Christmas season.

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.”