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Jonesboro mayor-elect, councilmembers speak on budget

A day after the Jonesboro City Council received its $2.76 million, proposed, fiscal year 2012 budget, councilmembers heard from the one person who is, perhaps, going to have to work with it the most next year — Mayor-elect Joy Day.

Day, who will take office Jan. 1, was the only member of the public who spoke, Friday, during a public hearing. Her comments were confined to requesting small amounts of money for summer concerts, a town newsletter, and city web site updates.

While the budget is being proposed by sitting Mayor Luther Maddox, it will be Day who has to live with it.

"I'm not very concerned," said Day. "I think our figures are fairly accurate, based on the past budget history, so I think they've done a good job. There have been some things deleted from the budget in the last few years, that I think our citizens would like to see returned, specifically the newsletter and the updating of the web site."

The city council is scheduled to vote on the spending plan at its next business meeting, on Monday, at 7 p.m., at Jonesboro Police Department Headquarters, located at 170 South Main St., in Jonesboro.

There was little comment from councilmembers at Friday's public hearing.

Outgoing councilman Roger Grider asked about increased spending on employees, with Maddox explaining that the higher expenditures were the result of higher insurance costs.

After the hearing ended, Grider took aim at another part of the proposed budget, the city's 1.5-mill property tax. He opposed the tax when it was re-introduced this year, and unsuccessfully campaigned for re-election, this year, on a platform of doing away with it. He lost in the city's municipal election.

The millage rate is not increasing in the new budget, but Grider continued his argument against the property tax, raising the likelihood that he may not vote in favor of the budget, because of the millage rate. The rate is projected to bring in $65,000 in revenue in 2012, mostly from property taxes on businesses.

"I think that $65,000 burden of taxes that we have put on our businesses could definitely have been cut out of a [$2.76 million] budget without anybody feeling any pain," said Grider, who will leave office at the end of this month.

City Councilmember Clarence Mann, however, said there is likely not enough opposition on the council to cause its members to vote down the proposed budget. He added that he will look into some of the items Day has asked to have included in the budget.

"I'm going to confer with the other councilmembers, and see what their thoughts are on this," he said.