DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - It's budget time in Northern Mississippi. Both Olive Branch and Southaven's preliminary budgets are ready and there's good news for taxpayers in both cities: no tax increases for either Southaven or Olive Branch.
"We're seeing record years of sales tax collection and we're having a far better year building permits," says Olive Branch Mayor Sam Rikard.
A good economy means a good budget. The city is working with a general fund of just under $27 million. Rikard says more than half of that will go toward public safety, "Close to 15 million dollars. We like to maintain a very visible police force. We think that's a deterrent to crime."
Rikard says the economy is the best it's been in recent years. He's included a raise for city employees. "The average raise is three percent, but some will get 2 percent, some more depending on seniority."
It's a similar scenario on the other side of the county in Southaven.
The general fund is just under $36 million. A big portion of that is also going to police and fire. "Public safety, they are 61 percent of entire general fund budget," says Mayor Greg Davis. He calls it an easy budget year that also includes more money for city employees.
"We're doing $1,500 across the board pay raises for most," he says. "That $1,500 does not include elected officials."
Davis says the city is able to do that because, "Sales taxes are up; property taxes are up."
Both mayors say smart planning and past preparation has paid off.
"We're not having to cut corners, not having to cut employees," says Davis. "What we did in the past we can reap benefits today in the budget."
"With our growth from 1997 to today, we've never been in position of cutting services and hopefully we never are," says Rikard.
Both city budgets will be approved in September.