Covington approves reduced millage rate

COVINGTON — The Covington City Council adopted a reduced millage rate during its regular meeting Monday.

The council unanimously approved a millage rate of 7.708, a reduction of 1/2-mill over the 2013 rate for a tax levy of $4.304 million in 2014. The 2013 millage rate was 8.208 and the rollback rate was 8.110. The total ad valorem tax levied for the 2013 tax year was $4.55 million.

The 2014 millage rate will support the $126 million budget the City Council adopted in June for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Expenditures are budgeted at $126.4 million, with anticipated revenue of $126.9 million.

This year’s budget includes the addition of one police officer and a patrol car for the Covington Police Department, which has a budget for fiscal year 2015 of $6.4 million.

In other news, the City Council narrowly approved the addition of another code enforcement officer.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston brought up the subject during Monday’s meeting, after he, City Manager Leigh Ann Knight and Councilwomen Hawnethia Williams and Ocie Franklin drove around the city and observed a high number of blighted homes and abandoned properties.

“We have one code enforcement officer and I would like the council to consider adding another to deal with not just this issue, but with others,” Johnston said.

Williams said she believes cleaning up these properties is a priority for the city.

She said it seems the city “promotes the shiny side, but we don’t seem to care about taking care of the other side, the lackluster side. But, we are responsible for all of it.”

Councilman Keith Dalton said he was concerned about the cost and wondered why, if this was such a need, it was not brought up during budget negotiations.

Knight said the cost of hiring an additional person would be about $66,486 and would not require a budget amendment.

The motion to add another code enforcement officer passed 4-2, with Dalton and Councilman Chris Smith voting against it.