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.”