Six Mile’s size presents challenges in budgeting

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

SIX MILE — Six Mile has small town charm but the town’s small population presents challenges year after year regarding budgets.

“It gets tighter and tighter,” Councilman James Atkinson said during a budget workshop town council held before its March 3 meeting.

Proposed budget numbers presented at that meeting projected an income of $330,028 for the town for Fiscal Year 2021.

“As you know, in our budget, being a small town, population of 700, 350 homes, we’re highly dependent on pass through,” Councilman James Atkinson said. “I mean, extremely highly dependent on pass through. It seems like it gets more difficult every year. In fact we were sweating it out a few days ago as we were working on this.”

What the town earns through property taxes “can’t even really cover our garbage pickup,” he said.

“We’re very dependent on pass through,” Atkinson said. “We try to stay on top of what we do expect to come in revenue-wise. The mayor does a good job of politicking, trying to help us out with some of our pass through state revenues and so forth.

Officials are working on obtaining some grant revenue this year, he said.

“There’s really not that much we have control of on the revenue side,” Atkinson said. “Our biggest control I’d have to say probably in some aspects is to invest our funds wisely.”

Other than through grants, the town hasn’t been able to put much into capital expenditures, he said.

“This year, it got so tight we really weren’t able to put much of anything in contingency first round,” Atkinson said. “We weren’t really able to put anything much extra in terms of capital expenditures, as we probably need to do. It just wasn’t there. We were trying to balance the budget.”

Recreation funds given by the county helps with the budgeting process, he said.

“It’s tough and it’s tight because we just don’t have the revenue sources,” Atkinson said.

Earlier that week, Mayor Roy Stoddard received documentation on what the town could expect to receive from the state through Aid to Subdivisions, Atkinson said.

Aid to Subdivisions is also known as the local government fund. The proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget shows the town receiving $17,000 from that income source. As of Feb. 18, 2020, Aid to Subdivisions has netted the town $12,001, the budget document shows.

“Every municipality sends all their revenue down to Columbia,” Stoddard said. “They massage that down there and they’re supposed to turn it around and send it back to us.”

But the state diverts some of those funds to other things “and we don’t get the money back,” he said.

“Every year for the last seven years, they have cut our Aid to Subdivision, our local government fund,” Stoddard said. “We probably lost, in the last 7 years, 25 percent of what we were supposed to get. That’s a big chunk.”

Outcry from counties and municipalities caused the state to come up with a new formula that’s now in effect, he said.

“They cannot come in with provisos each year to deduct or change the amount of money that we are supposed to get,” Stoddard said.

Some of the state’s more than $2 billion surplus – around $9 million – is supposed to go into the local government fund, he said.

“But the municipalities only get 17 percent of that big pot,” Stoddard said.

“The rest of it goes to counties,” he said. “But at least we got more than we got last year and there could be a possibility of getting more once they get through going through the budget cycle.”

The proposed budget showed projected expenses of $279,118 for Fiscal Year 2021.

Proposed income and expenses will come more in line as human resource and salary discussions continue, Atkinson said.