City finds surplus, will spend it on hydrants, streets

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2000

Vicksburg is finishing out the 2000 budget year with $2.3 million left unspent, and board members decided Wednesday to use the excess for street improvements and fire hydrants in the annexed areas.

In a year heavy with new construction and road projects such as Memorial Fire Station, the city budgeted $35.1 million between the general fund and capital improvements for 2000.

In budget amendments approved Wednesday, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen adjusted funding levels for each department to match what was actually spent.

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Many departments came in under the budgeted figure because of unfilled positions, while departments with a lot of vehicles, like the police, fire and street departments, suffered from high gas prices.

Legal fees for the city also came in at $150,000 under budget. For the past two years, outside legal costs have hovered around $200,000, but this year the figure was $83,380.

In another change, the purchasing department budget was adjusted upward by $6,500 to pay for “hiring contract labor for inventory needs.”

The city discovered in May that fixed asset inventory records were not being kept up to date. Student employees, temporary employees and the mayor’s assistant, Dexter Jones, were assigned to inventory thousands of items over the summer to update the lists.

None of the leftover funds will be returned to cash reserves, which the city drew on to the tune of $1.9 million in an earlier round of budget amendments in February.

The $2.3 million will be used for capital improvements, including street improvements at Hope and Clay streets and at North Washington Street.

“I think a good part of that should be used to put fire hydrants and other services into the annexed areas where they are not now,” Mayor Robert Walker said.

The addition of fire hydrants would improve the Vicksburg Fire Department’s ability to respond to major fires in those areas, Walker said.

The board presented a proposed budget for next year to the public at a hearing last week, and are still working out the details of that document before bringing it up for approval, likely next week.