City adopts ad valorem tax, no increase

Published 3:14 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2021

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen adopted an ad valorem tax for the 2021-2022 fiscal cycle, which carries no tax increase from this year.

This means that property owners will not pay any more than they have this year in ad valorem taxes unless their property’s assessed value has increased from this fiscal year, officials said.

The mileage rate has been set at 46.732 mills, where one mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.

The appropriation of this mileage is as follows: general fund, 33.560 mills; bond and interest retirement funds, 0.900 mills; parks and recreation, 2.000 mills; fireman and policemen’s relief and disability, 3.900 mills; Armstrong Library, 2.575 mills; Natchez-Adams Economic Development Authority, 0.813 mills; capital improvement, 1.250 mills; and public properties, 1.734 mills for a total of 46.732 mills.

Natchez City Clerk Servia Fortenberry estimated the city would collect approximately $119,000 per mill.

Officials estimate $5.8 million of the city’s revenue next fiscal year will come from ad valorem taxes with no change from this year. However, the city’s operating budget is expected to increase from the current $33.4 million to $36.7 million.

The budget includes $2 million from a bond issue that the city will use to restore its six parks and install new playground equipment, picnic tables, basketball goals, update bathrooms and more.

For a working list of these planned improvements, click here.

Fortenberry said the budget would be posted to the public before a public hearing on it and the board should adopt it before a Sept. 15 deadline.

“It is a balanced budget. The revenues are pretty solid, but there are a lot of working parts on our expenditures and it is not ready to be posted to the public yet,” she said.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is Sept. 14 and there would likely be a special-called meeting on Sept. 7 to discuss the budget, Fortenberry said.

One possible change to the city’s expenses was discussed for the Natchez City Cemetery Tuesday.

Elise Rushing, who is the president of the Natchez City Cemetery Board of Directors, requested the city allocate an additional $12,000 for operations, upkeep and maintenance at the cemetery to make up for budget shortfalls induced by COVID-19.

Angels on the Bluff, which is typically the cemetery’s biggest fundraising event of the year, did not take place in 2020 due to the pandemic, Rushing said to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday.

“This was a huge blow to our city cemetery financially, she said. “We continue to solicit donations from businesses and individuals to keep our financial goals to operate. This current fiscal year, our funding (from the city) was $6,000 monthly, $72,000 annually. We do need 30% of the 2020-2021 expenses … approximately $84,390.20. This is an increase from last year of approximately $12,000.”

Rushing said the cemetery board works hard to supplement whatever the city allocates by fundraising and soliciting donations from businesses and individuals in the community.

This past year, the cemetery’s income was $253,500 and total expense was $281,310.66, she said. That is a loss of $27,810.66, she said.

“We could not operate the city cemetery without your help and we depend on your appropriations to manage this property,” Rushing said. “(Cemetery) board members are willing to volunteer to keep the cemetery in operation, but we do need your help.”

The board took the budget request for the city cemetery under advisement and asked Fortenberry to work the added expense into the budget.