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Residents speak up about pay raises, possible tax hike

By Staff
BUDGET CUTS n Meridian firefighters Keith Creel, foreground, and Jimmy Stockton wash off a rescue truck after making several emergency runs Saturday afternoon. They and other Meridian workers could go without a pay increase in a budget proposal city leaders are considering. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Aug. 13, 2001
While J.L. Reece isn't that upset about a possible property tax increase in Meridian, he believes raises for elected city officials are unjustified especially if city workers don't get a raise.
Reece, 71, said he doesn't think it's fair.
Other residents around Meridian had similar mixed opinions about a city budget proposal that could raise property taxes 5 percent and leave city employees without a pay raise.
Meridian city council members began work this month on a budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. The budget will replace the current $41.5 million budget; it will fund everything from city services to employee salaries.
Reece and others said they don't believe the mayor and city councilmen should continue to accept a pay raise that kicked in July 1. Council members approved the raise last year, well before the 2001 city elections.
That raise upped the mayor's pay from $65,000 to $75,000 a year; upped the council's pay from $14,000 to $18,000 a year; and upped the council president's pay from $16,500 to $20,000 a year.
Meridian resident Dan Johnson, 44, said police and fire department personnel deserve a raise before the council members and mayor.
Other residents talked about the possible tax increase. A 5 percent property tax increase would mean an additional $12.50 a year in taxes for a $50,000 house and about $25 a year in taxes for a $100,000 home.
James Dawson, 43, said he believes that "we need to sit down with the (city) council and get this stuff on the table and cut some places instead of hitting me up for the money."
Cybil Robinson, 74, said that the tax increase might force her to cut back spending on other expenses.
Quotes from residents for Mugs:
Cybil Robinson, 74:
Dan Johnson, 44:
J.L. Reece, 71:
James Dawson, 43
Lovell Clark, 50