City passes resolution for fiscal responsibility

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vicksburg’s future general fund budgets will continue to be balanced and have a surplus after approval of a resolution Monday by the Board of Mayor and Alderman.

The resolution establishes a policy that the board will maintain a fund balance, or surplus, including the board’s emergency fund, that is not lower than 25 percent of the city’s budgeted general fund expenses each year. The city’s fund balance in 2012 was 49 percent of the expenses, according to that year’s audit, city Accounting Director Doug Whittington said.

“This (resolution) along with the reserve fund the board adopted (in November), shows great fiscal responsibility for the city, for taxpayers’ money,” Whittington said. “Not only that, it helps ensure that future boards are also fiscally responsible. This is a very good financial policy, not only for today, but for the future.”

He said the combination of the reserve fund and the resolution “go a long way to obtaining or getting back the good bond rating the city had.”

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the move puts the city closer to restoring the rating pulled in 2012 by Moody’s Investment Services over unsettled bond debt.

“I think that it is absolutely imperative that this board, this administration, show, not only the public, but the business community and the bond rating company, that this board has every intention of trying to be fiscally responsible for the taxpayers’ dollars,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs said, however, the resolution was only good “as long as you’ve got two votes. Because two votes can change it any day.”

He added he wouldn’t vote to repeal the policy. “I won’t be the tax and spend guy,” he said, adding, “if we see an emergency coming, we’re going to exercise every precaution, and every caution we can to make sure the city doesn’t go bankrupt or do anything radical that will affect service in this city.”

On the agenda

Meeting Monday, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen:

• Adopted the minutes of the following meetings: Jan. 21 and 24; Feb. 3, 7 and 10.

• Met members of the Americorps team working in the city to clean the city’s parks.

• Proclaimed March as Red Cross Month.

• Took under advisement two bids for the city’s scrap from Keyes Recycling and Vicksburg Recycling. Both companies are from Vicksburg. The bids were by line item.

• Rejected bids for remounting an ambulance body and for remounting a new body on a rescue truck and authorized City Clerk Walter Osborne to re-advertise for bids. The lone rescue truck remounting bid by Custom Truck and Body Works Inc. of Woodbury, Ga., of $96,000 was rejected because it was over the budget for the project.

• Authorized Osborne to advertise for bids for a generator installation for the Dempsey Street sewer lift station, and for installing quick connections for the city’s other pumping stations for emergency generators.

• Authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign an agreement with Haven House Family Shelter for services for the city’s 2014 domestic violence victims empowerment program. The city has applied for a violence against women grant from the Mississippi Deparment of public safety. Haven House will only provide services if the city receives a grant.

In a related matter, the board authorized Flaggs to sign an agreement with Stacey Waites for counseling services under domestic violence program, pending approval of the grant application.

• Renewed interlocal agreements with the Culkin Volunteer Fire Department allowing the Vicksburg Fire Department to provide fire service to River Region Medical Center, and with the Warren County Board of Supervisors and River Region to provide sewer service and to handle building inspections and code enforcement at the hospital.

The renewals cover the new $13.2 million annex the hospital is building on its property off U.S. 61 North.

• Authorized Flaggs to sign an agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard to provide fire service and emergency medical services to the station at the Port of Vicksburg.

• Authoritzed Flaggs to sign an agreement with the Mississippi Fire Academy for airport fire fighting refresher training.

• Approved the following requests from Vicksburg Main Street: permission to use city sidewalks March 27 for Hit the Bricks and nurses night out, permission to spend up to $600 promoting Hit the Bricks and nurses night out, permission to use city sidewalks for Vicksburg loft tours, and permission to spend up to $1,500 top promote the loft tours.

• Approved the following payments as the city’s share of salaries and benefits for Vicksburg-Warren 911: $44,105.98 for January, and $36,510.63 for Fedruary.

• Approved paying the following invoices: $43,898 to Landers Dodge of South Haven for two police cars, $26,791.95 to Eastern Aviation Fuels Inc. of New Bern, N.C. for jet fuel, $34,665.76 to Eastern Aviation Fuels Inc. for aviation fuel, and $6,243.50 to HD Supply of Jackson for antennas for water meters.

• Approve special assessments for cleaning the following properties: 1400 South Street, Irene Miller c/o Robert Hampton, $4,891.49; 2004 Pearl St., Eddie Milton Jr. and Linda C. Milton, $1,921.72.

• Authorized Community Development Director Victor Gray-Lewis to cut and clear property at 716 Main St.

In a related matter the board granted a 60-day extension to the owner of property at 718 Main St. It granted 30-day extensions to the owners of the following properties: 2904 Valley St., 2918 Valley St., and 2916 Valley.

• Approved a $48,239.19 check to Entergy for utilities.

• Added community service worker Monica Shorter to the city driving list.

• Approved a request from the Exchange Club and the Parent Center Inc., to use the playground at Catfish Row for its annual Party in the Park fundraiser April 12.

• Approve paying $100 to the City of Edwards for advertising the city in a book honoring Andrew “Sugarman” Daniel.

• Approved a $100 ad for a program for the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs.

• Approved buying a ½ page ad in Vicksburg Living Magazine at a rate of $600 for six times a year for a total of $3,600.

 

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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