- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - Columbus officials are planning a public hearing in May to get feedback on a possible property tax increase to pay for infrastructure upgrades throughout the city.

The Commercial Dispatch reports (http://bit.ly/1dKEfhP ) the city has gone more than two years without raising property taxes. That could change if the council issues $5 million in general obligation bonds for capital improvements.

If 10 percent or 1,500 registered voters object to a tax increase, an election would be necessary. Approval from 60 percent of those voting would be required.

Attorney Steve Edds of the Baker Donelson law firm in Jackson and city financial consultant Lynn Norris told councilmen they would work to set up a payment plan that would necessitate a maximum two-mill increase and hopefully less. A two-mill increase would add $20 in property taxes per $100,000 in home value.

If the council were to adopt a resolution in May, Edds said it could have the money in the bank by June or July, which would allow the city to begin advertising for contractors and starting the process of improving roads and ditches late this summer.

From 2010-12, the city spent about $3.5 million of an $8.9 million bond issue for capital improvements.

“I hear complaints all the time concerning potholes or streets that need paving. By having a public forum, that will give citizens an opportunity to say whatever they want to say,” said Mayor Robert Smith.

Councilman Bill Gavin also said he wanted taxpayer feedback before proceeding.

“I’d really like to hear from the public about this. It’s their money,” Gavin said. “I’m sure you’re going to have some for it and some against it.”

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com