Ridgeland city employees’ paychecks will show an increase starting in October.
In the new budget, city employees will be receiving an increase of five percent. This gives Mayor Gene McGee $2,500 more annually bringing his salary to approximately $98,500. Alderman received a $1,250 increase for a salary of about $22,400.
“We can’t afford to do it every year, and this year, because of our strong economy here in Ridgeland and because our budget is doing very well, we felt it important to reward our employees who are doing a great job making Ridgeland the best place it can be,” McGee said. “They deserve the raise and the board made the determination after much discussion to give them a five percent raise. I think that’s a really good thing.”
There was no salary increase for the Mayor and Board of Aldermen in 2021, however, they received a raise the previous year in 2020 -- the first time since 2016. The mayor’s salary increased about $6,500 in the past seven years.The city usually evaluates the cost of living and makes the decision as to whether it is necessary to raise salaries to match it each year, Ridgeland City Clerk Paula Tierce said.
“[But the board] didn’t use the cost of living as the determination (this year),” McGee said. “Obviously, inflation has something to do with cost of living, but at this particular time that was not discussed.”
The increase isn’t abnormal compared to neighboring cities. Brandon’s Mayor Butch Lee received a raise on Sept. 20 bringing his annual salary to $100,000 and the aldermen’s salaries to $19,000. Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler has been making a $98,000 annual salary since a pay increase in 2018 with the aldermen’s salaries at $24,000. The city of Clinton is the lowest of the four cities with its Mayor Phil Fisher making $80,000 per year.
The increase in salaries will not affect the amount of taxes Ridgeland residents are paying to the city. Tierce said the mayor and aldermen have maintained the same millage rate for over 30 years and voted to keep it the same this upcoming year as well. One change that has been made in this adopted budget is that it includes $1.1 million worth of one-time capital expenditures.
“Capital expenditures have been kept to an absolute minimum since the middle of fiscal year 2020,” Tierce said.
She said this was due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, no projects were put on hold as a result. These one-time expenditures are for vehicle and equipment purchases.
Tierce said to keep in mind that the proposed $1,837,704 budget is evaluated and monitored closely throughout the entire fiscal year. She said they will be able to modify the budget if need be because the budget is prepared for the possibility of higher costs.
“The city is very conservative when estimating revenue and expenses are projected high,” Tierce said. “Rarely, if ever, does the city spend all the budgeted expenditures and generally receives more revenue than projected.”
She said the city has a policy that the general fund balance will not fall below 45 percent of the budgeted expenditures for the fiscal year. This year, it is anticipated the ending balance will be $16,659,669, which is well over the policy minimum at 64.66 percent of expenditures for the year.
“We have a great budget,” McGee said. “This is the 32nd year that we have adopted our budget, and we have not raised taxes. By good quality budgeting and frugal budgeting, we are able to provide the services for our citizens that they need and deserve to keep the taxes low.”