City holds the line on taxes, but increases in fees are likely

The Biloxi City Council voted to hold the line on city property taxes, but the largest increase Biloxi residents may face, a $21 increase in average monthly residential water bill, is out of the city’s hands.

Councilmembers voted Tuesday afternoon to keep the city’s property tax rate at its existing level, and approved a slight increase requested by Biloxi Public Schools, amounting to about $14.70 a year on a $100,000 home.

However, councilmembers pointed out that despite the city having no plans to increase its water or sewer rates, the city must include a debt service payment to the Harrison County Utility Authority amounting to $21 for the average residential customer, who uses about 8,000 gallons of water a month.

The debt service costs are the result of payments being deferred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the utility authority’s debt being re-structured to include a variable interest rate post-Katrina.

Other options discussed Tuesday: increasing the monthly garbage fee to $10, a $2.50 increase.

Councilmembers also approved a measure where city employees will have to begin paying $50 a month for family medical insurance and $50 a month for family dental coverage.

Although councilmembers set the revenue portion of the budget today, deliberations over spending plans for FY 2011 will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.