WINONA – The Winona Board of Aldermen adopted the proposed budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which includes a 2.2 mil increase to combat the growing cost to do business and the anticipated loss in sales tax due to the closure of Fred’s Super Dollar.
According to City Clerk June Williams, this year’s budget is made up of $3,967,653 worth of expenses, up $49,106 from last year’s $2,918,547. The increase in expenses is in preparation for an increase in cost of doing business, Mayor Jerry Flowers said.
He said those expenses do not include any new large purchases like equipment, employee pay increases, or special projects. The city budgeted only for maintaining its current services.
The adopted budget also includes a 2.2 mil increase in the city’s millage rate, an increase that will bring in $53,409.40 in new revenue. This increase will offset the anticipated loss in sales tax from the closing of Fred’s and Walmart, which closed in 2018.
“This is the last thing the mayor and board of aldermen want to do, but we didn’t have a choice,” Flowers said. “The cost of everything is going up, from fuel to things in everyday life.”
According to Williams, in years past, the city collected $1,050,000 in sales tax on average, however, with the loss of Walmart and the recent closing of Fred’s Super Dollar, the city is anticipating sales tax will be around $935,000 this year, down approximately $115,000.
Williams said last fiscal year, the city anticipated the loss of $100,000 in sales tax from the closing of Walmart, and this year, they are anticipating approximately $15,000 lost from Fred’s.
Williams explained that when creating the budget, she and Flowers have to use a projected number for sales tax revenue, but there is no way of knowing what the city will collect until they receive the revenue from the state.
“I would rather underestimate than over estimate,” Williams said. “The expenses are going up, and we are going to have to accommodate these.”
Flowers said with two new developments, Burger King and the Stribling/Empire Truck project, under construction on the Highway 82 and Interstate 55 interchange, the city will see an increase in sales tax and property tax.
“The City of Winona is going to be fine,” Flowers said. “We just have to get through the ebbs and flows of life.”
At a public hearing held Tuesday night for citizens regarding the new budget, no one had questions or comments for the mayor and board of aldermen.
“I would like to commend June [Williams] and the department heads,” Flowers told the board. “They watch what they spend. We are good stewards of our money.”
The budget was adopted 5-0 and will go into effect on October 1.