Meridian City Council ends budget battle
By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Oct. 16, 2002
City councilmen ended a month-long battle over Meridian's $86.6 million annual budget Tuesday night, restoring thousands of dollars in planned cuts.
Mayor John Robert Smith said the budget cuts were no longer needed because he vetoed a vote by the city council that would have reduced the tax rate and amount of taxes the city will receive this year.
Smith vetoed the lower tax rate because a state attorney general's opinion said the city council had no legal authority to change the rate after it already had been approved and set.
Councilmen voted 4-1 for the budget amendment restoring the cuts. Ward 5 Councilman Bobby Smith cast the lone "no" vote; after the meeting, Smith couldn't explain his vote.
Councilmen also sustained the mayor's veto of the council's Sept. 30 vote to drop the tax rate from 50.08 mills to 48.08 mills used to determine how much money people will pay in property and car tag taxes.
One mill is one-tenth of 1 cent. For each mill, a taxpayer pays $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
During the hour-long council discussion about the budget Tuesday night, Mayor Smith made his case for restoring the cuts. He said the money is available in the budget.
Ed Skipper, the city's chief financial officer, told councilmen that this year's budget process "has been unlike any I've ever been through with the city of Meridian."
Ward 3 Councilman Barbara Henson said she thinks councilmen received details about the budget too late in the process and "were not told enough."