Mayor, aldermen reject their pay raises

Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In an effort to save a little cash and show they’re not exempt from potential cuts in the forthcoming budget, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously Tuesday to forgo a scheduled 5 percent pay increase for themselves.

“We thought it would have been unwise to give ourselves raises at this time, especially when we are unable to give raises to our employees,” said Mayor Paul Winfield of the closed session vote.

According to a 2002 ordinance, the mayor and aldermen are to receive 5 percent raises in July of each administration’s second and third years in office. Winfield and the aldermen took office last July.

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The vote means the annual salaries will remain $81,033.68 for Winfield and $64,827.10 for South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield. The increase would have raised Winfield’s salary by $4,051.68, and the aldermen’s by $3,421.35 each.

“We can’t afford it. Period,” said Mayfield.

In March, the board announced none of the city’s roughly 550 employees would receive any non-merit raises for the foreseeable future. Winfield said Tuesday that policy, whereby employees must achieve a promotion or various accreditations to receive a raise, is still in effect.

The fiscal year 2011 budget, which will cover Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2011, will begin to be carved out this month, with a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26. Winfield has said he does not anticipate having to raise taxes, but added some department cuts are likely. This fiscal year budget is about $31.5 million.

In other cost-cutting measures this year, Winfield on Jan. 29 sent a memo to department heads informing them to cut out all unnecessary spending, put off all capital purchases and limit travel outside the city to training events only. The city is also breaking up annual contributions to local agencies into two payments instead of a single check to keep more cash on hand as the end of the fiscal year approaches.

The ordinance triggering automatic raises for the city’s three elected officials came after many years in which board members faced the prospect of voting on their own compensation each year.

On the agenda

Meeting Tuesday, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen:

• Recognized Fire Chief Charles Atkins for his appointment to the Mississippi Fire Personnel Minimum Standards and Certification Board.

• Received proposals for engineering services for generator installation at the water treatment plant from Watkins & O’Gwynn of Jackson, Billy Alford of Flowood, I.C. Thomasson Associates Inc. of Jackson, Advance Environmental Consultants of Jackson and Allen & Hoshall of Ridgeland.

• Received no bids for fire and police uniforms, and OK’d re-advertising for bids.

• Received bids for service uniforms from Fashions Inc. of Jackson and Cintas of Jackson. Cintas’ bid was rejected for coming in after the deadline.

• Received bids for Riverfront Park maintenance and Art Park lockup/closure from Eagle Eye Enterprises of Redwood, R&J Handyman of Vicksburg and Jimmy Derrington of Vicksburg.

• OK’d final documents for the fiscal year 2010 Mississippi Department of Public Safety TRIAD grant program.

• OK’d a request for cash and summary sheet number 11 on the Community Development Block Grant-funded projects at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport on U.S. 61 South, fire station and T-hangar.

• OK’d a request from the police department for $600 to purchase food for the Summer Youth Streetball Program.

• Gave the buildings and inspections permission to cut grass, remove trash and/or dilapidated buildings from the following properties found incompliant with property maintenance codes: 1401 High St., 1506 Jackson St., 1402 Main St., 1501 Great St., and lots on Hutson, Lane and Cherry streets. A 30-day extension was granted for a lot on Hutson Street and a 45-day extension was granted for 900 Buck St. and a 60-day extension for 1408 E. Magnolia St.

• OK’d summer youth employee Bobby Clark for the employee driving list, subject to approval by the human resources department.

• OK’d easement of property from DiamondJacks Casino to the city for construction of a roadway connecting with Lee Street, as outlined in the Clark Street bridge replacement project.

• OK’d termination of a contract with Roscoe Lee for concession stand operation at men’s and women’s softball fields.

In closed session, the board:

• OK’d one hire in the fire department, one rehire in the gas department, one transfer in the sewer department and one in the right of way department and two in the building maintenance department, one retirement in the fire department, and three terminations in the building maintenance department.

• OK’d advertising two open positions in each the gas and sewer departments, and one in each the recreation, parks and recreation maintenance and right of way departments.

• Discussed one property matter.

• The board is scheduled to meet next at 10 a.m. Friday.