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Board hears budget, OKs tax cutback

The Collierville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a 15¢ property tax decrease and listened to a presentation on the town’s proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year Monday night.

The budget includes an estimated $57.2 million in expenditures and $58.3 million in revenue.

Town Administrator James Lewellen noted that some of the major expenditures for Collierville include: the police department ($13 million), the fire department ($8.1 million), debt payment for the new high school ($5.4 million), Parks and Recreation ($5.4 million), and streets and drainage projects ($4 million).

Because the state requires municipalities to “roll back” their property taxes to a “revenue neutral” figure after a reappraisal year, Collierville’s property tax rate will be reduced to $1.63 per $100 of assessed value.

With the reappraisal, Lewellen said Collierville homes saw a median increase of $35,000 in value.

Other budget highlights include:

• The purchase of seven new police interceptor vehicles, fully funded by the town’s drug fund.

• $35,000 in improvements to the Suggs Off Leash Park.

• $100,000 in improvements to the Harrell Theatre.

• $200,000 in improvements to Tom Brooks Park. Alderman Tom Allen asked that the board reconsider this expenditure in an effort to save money until the town knows the actual cost of the new high school.

• Lewellen noted that the town will collect an estimated $4 million in waste fees, giving Collierville residents the lowest sanitation rate in Shelby County.

• The reduction and eventual elimination of the Hall Income Tax is expected to eliminate $1.5 million in revenue from the town over the next four years.

• An increase in the state’s gas tax will result in an additional $400,000 in paving costs over the next three years.

In related news:

■ Board members also heard a presentation of the 2017-18 budget for Collierville Schools given by Superintendent John Aitken.

Some of the budget additions include:

• Two additional classroom positions for the new high school.

• Five additional STEM teachers for the school system, or one for each elementary school.

• An additional full-time nurse and a school counselor at Collierville High School.

• Four full-time occupational therapists.

• An additional assistant principal.

• Six new employees for the district’s new maintenance department. The district previously outsourced most maintenance work.

• A new social worker.

• An estimated $667,000 to convert Schilling Middle School into an elementary school.

• An estimated $275,000 to convert the current Collierville High School into a middle school.

• Aitken said the hope is for every high school student to have a laptop as soon as next year.

The Collierville School Board approved the budget on April 17. Now, the BMA must approve the budget at the June 26 meeting.

■ Board members approved an eminent domain resolution for a portion of land that includes the Laurel Wood Apartments off of S. Center Street.

The property will be part of the Center Connect improvement project, which includes a school bus stop for neighborhood children, a new sidewalk along the frontage of the property, handicap ramps, a bench and a bicycle rack.

The property owner will be compensated for the easements, which the town will maintain.

The initial offer of $1,760 has not been accepted by the property owner. The town will continue to work with the property owner on accepting the agreement.

However, if the owner does not accept the offer in a timely manner the town attorney will file a condemnation suit in Chancery Court.

Before offering a motion to approve the resolution, Alderman Billy Patton noted that the “town has done its due diligence” in the matter.

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