Ward 6 Councilman and Budget Committee Chairman Marshand Crisler
Photo by Kenya Hudson
Sept. 5, 2008
A Thursday night public hearing revealed that a proposed tax cut for Jackson residents may be down the tubes. Jackson Mayor Frank Melton proposed the cut last week during a budget hearing, but even he abandoned the cut last night, which would have cut city revenue by only $582,200. Council members present at the Thursday hearingincluding Charles Tillman, Marshand Crisler, Margaret Barrett-Simon and Council President Leslie McLemoresuspected the tax cut would not be able to survive budget shortfalls, especially in light of city employees demands for pay increases.
The city council also discussed the possibility of a tax hike to generate almost $2 million for pay raises next fiscal year, amounting to a $600 annual raise for regular employees and a $1,200 annual raise for police officers. The council wants to provide raises to city employees, but members argue the budget is too tight to provide it without a subsequent tax increase to fund them.
AFL-CIO union organizer Brenda Scott advocated heavily for the raise.
"It's the capital city, and I think it's time we treat it like the capital city. Everybody wants to come in and work, and in the evening leave out of here without leaving a dime for infrastructure or anything else," Scott said, adding that she was a Jackson resident who would be willing to accept a tax increase to support the raise. "I'll take whatever is necessary. I understand Madison or Ridgeland may be considering raising their own taxes. What makes them any better than us?
Melton bitterly reminded the council that he had advocated for a city employee pay raise during the last budget cycle.
"Last year, this administration asked for a 20 percent increase for public safety and ... our support staff, but we were denied that by our council," Melton said. "This year, there's a greater sentiment to set things right because this is a political year."
Crisler defended his reasons for not accepting the pay increase.
Ӆ Last year we did have an opportunity to raise salaries, but the fact of the matter is the only way we could have done it was to raise taxes 2.5 mill or float a bonda 30-year bondand I want to be clear that I did not approve that," Crisler said. "Most of us won't be here in 30 years. Of all the council members up here, by the grace of God and good health, I might be here by the end of it. I'm not entering into any agreement that I won't see ... completed."
I know I'm gonna get jumped on for this, but the service I've received in many city offices is so pathethic that I can't see accepting a tax increase to give them a raise. Also, the salary is what it is when you apply for and accept the job. You don't take the job and then cry about what they pay you.