Mayor delivers impromptu address at board meeting

Published 11:21 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The general public got an impromptu State of the City address from Mayor George Flaggs Jr. at Monday’s meeting of the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Flaggs, who was elected in 2013 with 77 percent of the vote, highlighted some accomplishments in the previous year and plans for moving the city forward in 2015.

Last week it was announced the city had restructured its outstanding bond debt, saving more than $300,000.

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That money, Flaggs said, could go to a variety of improvements for the city.

“We believe beatification, street resurfacing and good recreation opportunities…are vital to the success of Vicksburg,” he said.

As Flaggs — alongside North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson — met with the city’s department heads to discuss budgets, the former state legislator said employee health plans and a personnel chart are two things he expects to work on for the upcoming year.

“I think it’s so important that the city adopt some type of personnel chart based upon the function and responsibility,” Flaggs said.

One part of that, he said, will be cross-training city employees to perform at least two different jobs.

“We believe that, because of the aging workforce of the city, we need to start preparing for the future,” he said. “Everybody who works for the city ought to be able to perform at least two positions.”

The idea for cross training employees took the fore after portions of city properties went nearly two weeks without mowing because of a single employee’s vacation.

“I was told this week we couldn’t cut the grass because only one person could operate the tractor. We’re going to look at that, all the way from the tractor up to the mayor’s office,” Flaggs said.

One major change could be on the horizon — but not until 2015.

The change, which amounts to an increase in co-pay for employees — is something city officials will look at during the 2015-16 budgetary process.

“We have come to a conclusion that we can continue to provide this healthcare coverage even though we can make a savings of $300,000 if we change our co-pay options or generic vs. regular meds,” he said.

Though the city did not make the changes this year, Flaggs served notice that employee health plans could get a second look this time next year.

“We’re giving the employees a year to let them know,” he said.

Another point he discussed for the upcoming year is connecting the city’s historical offerings with the Vicksburg National Military Park.

A walking trail or bike path could be the answer, he said.

“If we connect VNMP with downtown exhibits or museums, we can get people to stay in Vicksburg a extra few days,” he said.

“That’s my one-year State of the City,” Flaggs concluded to laughter.