By Sue Moore
It isn’t often that local government authorizes a lowering of its millage rate. Experience suggests that most times taxes go up, not down. The village of Vicksburg in the 2019-2020 projected budget that begins July 1, did in fact, decrease the rate to 15.163 mills, a half-mill reduction from the current levy.
To mark the occasion, the first celebration of Community Night in the village of Vicksburg is set for Monday, July 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Community Pavilion on N. Richardson Street. It is sponsored by the village and will include a short council meeting at 6 p.m. Various businesses, nonprofits, churches, food purveyors and scouting groups have been extended an invitation to participate. TrustShield Insurance and St Martin of Tours Catholic Church are sponsoring inflatables. The Mill is sponsoring music for the night.
Elected officials from this area are planning to attend because of the uniqueness of the tax decrease. They want to be supportive, according to Village Manager Jim Mallery. The theme of the gathering is “Our Future’s So Bright” with participants being encouraged to decorate in neon, sun and sunglasses, said Jenny Holmes who is helping to organize the evening event.
For a municipality Vicksburg’s size, decreasing a millage is a first from memory for those who follow local government. The reduction of .5 mill is roughly $50 for every $100,000 of state equalized valuation (SEV). Overall, the 15.163 mills, $15.163 per $1,000 taxable valuation, will raise $1,625,700 for the general fund. Of that, $1,587,564 is budgeted for expenditures in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
Mallory was congratulated by members of the village council for his work on the budget, especially his propensity to overestimate expenses and underestimate revenues. “We can estimate village revenue down to the very dollar but there is revenue from the state that we don’t control – nearly 35 percent is for major streets. I treat these dollars as I would my own,” Mallery went on to say.
“When I started I was shocked to learn how this government operated. People wouldn’t use their own money the way they were spending the people’s money, so caution is built into the factors that we don’t control. I’ve never blown a budget in all my years of being in government and I don’t want to do it now.”
What has increased in the budget is the water and sewer consumption rate for 2019-2020 in order to improve infrastructure of the village. The underground water and sewer system has been largely ignored since being rebuilt and expanded in the 1940s, 50s, and 80s. A major investment is being planned for the downtown streets along with some changes to the pumping stations on Washington and 22nd streets.
Other budget details include $199,500 for the parks and recreation department and $329,685 to improve roadways, with $144,200 of that for local streets. Capital improvements in the village shows $110,000 set aside. The Department of Public Works expects to spend $363,600 and the Downtown Development Authority has budgeted $290,925.
The enterprise arms of the village includes Angels Crossing golf course which expects to have $1,117,000 in revenues and $1,098,209 in expenditures. The water fund is budgeted for $711,150 in revenue and $689,600 in expenses. The sewer fund anticipates $969,500 revenue and $966,400 in expenses.