Corinth aldermen on Tuesday adopted the upcoming year’s tax levy and budget after ironing out a few final details on pay increases and outside agency requests.

The budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 holds the total millage rate at 95, with 59.2 mills of that total going to the Corinth School District.

City employees are generally set to receive a pay increase of 3 percent or $1,040 annually, whichever is greater. Aldermen split on pay raises for themselves, deadlocking 3-3, with Mayor Tommy Irwin breaking the tie with a “yes” vote in favor of budgeting the $1,040 per year raise. The motion includes an option to decline the pay increase if an alderman chooses to do so.

Aldermen are currently paid $17,480 annually, and the raise will bump the pay to $18,520. The alderman who is serving as mayor pro tem receives an additional $1,000 for the year. The pro tem title rotates among the board members annually.

The board also took up funding for the Verandah-Curlee House as an individual item. In a 5-1 vote, the board voted to fund the historic property at the requested level of $35,000, an increase of $10,000. With a new board in place, some of the aldermen are agreeing to the increase in order to give the new directors a chance to increase visitation and use of the property. Ward 1 Alderman Chris Wilson, who voted against the increase, said he is in favor of funding the property at $0 and selling it.

“I see no benefit to the city from that house over there and the taxpayers spending that kind of money when our streets look like they do,” said Wilson.

The board also voted to approve a last-minute addition of the Boys & Girls Club to the list of outside agencies receiving funding at $3,000. Alderman J.C. Hill said the organization needs to replace a heating and air unit at a cost of $4,300.

The city’s budget during the time of coronavirus has been helped by an unexpected spike in sales tax collected in the city. For the fiscal year, the city’s sales tax diversion reached $6.582 million, rising 4.5 percent, or about $285,000, from the prior fiscal year.

The majority of outside agencies will see no change in their allocations for the coming year. The allocations are:

n Airport – $110,000 (was $113,500 in FY 2020)

n Health Department – $1,000

n Alcorn County Soil & Water – $5,000

n The Alliance – $166,000 (was $185,000)

n Animal shelter – $70,000

n CARE Garden – $9,000

n Keep Corinth Beautiful – $4,000

n Main Street Corinth – $40,000 (was $27,000). The increase is aimed at helping to reignite downtown retail during the pandemic.

n Crossroads Museum – $23,000

n Veterans Service Office – $1,200

n Corinth Area Arts Council – $13,200. The council requested a substantial increase to $38,400, and the board will consider further funding on an as-needed basis.

The library and parks remain at their usual allocations of 1.5 mills and 2 mills, respectively.

In other business, the board heard from Calvin Howell, the owner of a property at 929 North Madison Street, where the city is pressing for cleanup. Howell told the board he recently entered into an agreement to rehabilitate the property with a young couple who plan to live there.

The rehab will include removal of a portion of the back of the house.

“The rest of the house basically is a good structure,” said Howell. “It’s just been let go for so long.”

But the board is directing the building inspector to assess whether the property can be rehabilitated. The board gave a 30-day continuance and is requiring the other party in the rehab to also address the board next month.

Aldermen set public hearings for the Oct. 6 meeting on cleanup at 1410 Pinecrest, 933 Madison Street and 10 Ridgeview Drive.

The board also had a public hearing on the closure of Hawkins Street and tabled the item for further study after hearing from some residents of the area.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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