In excellent news, Diamondhead starts its 2016 fiscal year on October 1 with a $3.1 million carryover from last year’s budget. Using a slide presentation to introduce budget plans, City Manager Clovis Reed said he was very careful about spending over the past year due to lack of an expenditures history in a new city and the potential occurrence of natural disasters. The upshot is that financially the city is now one of the strongest in the state.
The carryover makes major projects in the city possible without bond issues or a tax increase, he said, and the bulk will be applied to capital projects. It has been “assigned out” into various funds, some of which are reserves, like the $900,000 in an operating reserve fund and $975,000 in a disaster contingencies fund.
The city plans to increase public works expenditures by $1.2 million over last year’s, and to boost police expenditures by $282,422 to pay for 25% of the salary of one additional policeman through a COPS grant and 100% salary of a second additional policeman. In administration, a full time janitor, part time clerical person, and part time grant person will be added along with subscription to Municode, a codifier of municipal codes for thousands of cities and counties, for an increase of $305,131.
The tax levy will remain at 34 mills. Assessed valuation has dropped some for Diamondhead as it has across the county, Reed said, but the city has also seen some increase in permits and in sales tax revenue.
Capital projects, some of which are aided by grant money, include drainage improvements, City Hall improvements to meet ADA requirements, remaining Live Oak projects, a roundabout for Aloha Drive, and signage and other improvements for the 9.5 mile Kayak and Hiking Trail along the Jourdan River.
The council accepted the millage by unanimous vote last night, but the budget is still subject to comment by citizens and change by the council before being adopted at the special meeting on Tuesday, September 8 at 4 pm. Citizens have until then to contact mayor and councilmen with their input. You can see the estimated revenues and expenditures here.
Note: The slide presentation prepared by City Clerk Kristen Ventura was excellent. It would be a worthwhile service to citizens if the city could put it online at their website or Facebook page.