City to use 2007 funds for current capital projects

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 16, 2014

Money for several projects proposed in the City of Vicksburg’s fiscal 2015 budget will be funded by an existing source of money — the unused portion of the city’s 2007  $16.9 million bond issue.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen discussed possible uses for the money at a Friday work session on the 2015 budget, which is projected to run an estimated $29.97 million, about $250,000 more than the $29.72 million 2014 budget.

The board is expected to meet Friday to finalize the budget. A public hearing on the 2015 budget is Aug. 28, and it is expected to be approved Sept. 10. The budget must be approved and in place by Sept. 15 under state law.
“We’re about 95 percent close to finalizing the budget,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, adding the budget does not include a millage increase.

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“We’ve also cut the amount of gaming revenue in the budget by 18 percent,” he said. “We’re working to reach a point where we won’t have to rely on gaming revenue to make our budget.”

City Accounting Director Doug Whittington said about $1.1 million remains in the bond issue’s account and could be used to pay for some projects requested by department heads during budget hearings held earlier this month.

The 2007 loan included money for the Washington Street bridge, street improvements and developing the first phase of the sports complex on Fisher Ferry Road. The city later took $3.7 million from the $4.1 million allocated for Fisher Ferry and moved it to pay for work on the bridge.

Whittington told the board he asked City Attorney Nancy Thomas if the money could be used for other city projects, adding that Thomas told him the bond resolution indicated the money could be used for capital improvements and recreation.

The project list presented earlier this month included some high-ticket items like a new roof and lighting control system for the Vicksburg Convention Center, which are expected total an estimated $454,000; a new roof for the pavilion at City Park, $350,000, and $130,000 for a new roof and asbestos removal for the city’s vehicle maintenance building.

Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Willis Thompson balked at the cost of the pavilion roof, claiming the amount was too high.

“I want to see if we can build a new pavilion for that much,” said Thompson, who represents the South Ward.

Mayfield, who represents the North Ward, agreed.

“I’m in favor of spending $400,000 and getting a brand-spanking new facility (rather) than spend $350,000 on a roof for what we have,” he said.

Flaggs told Mayfield and Thompson to examine the feasibility of building a new pavilion and said he and the aldermen will set a priority list for the remaining bond money.

In other budget matters, the board examined list of proposed positions in several city department. Flaggs said earlier this month the board will list the hiring freeze imposed last year for 10 days to allow some departments to fill necessary vacancies.

That list includes creating a position for housing coordinator, lifting the freeze for a mechanic II position in vehicle maintenance, hiring a part-time employee for the Vicksburg Municipal Airport, hiring an assistant supervisor/electrician for the traffic department, creating a new full-time position in court services, unfreezing a technician’s position for the information technology department and hiring a maintenance foreman for the water treatment plant.

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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