Proposed city budget has $500K deficit

Published 12:48 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday presented a $41.6 million budget featuring projected property and sales tax revenues totaling more than $16 million, $14 million in bond issue funds and other loans and a $561,209 deficit.

The budget is about $6.5 million more than the fiscal 2015 budget and includes no millage increase.

Most of the $14 million, which is listed as other revenue sources, is dedicated to specific items. If it is removed from the projected general fund revenues, it leaves the city with a $28.07 million operating budget.

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A similar path was followed for fiscal 2015, when the board included money remaining from a bond issue as one time funding for several projects. Once that money was removed from the equation, the city’s $35 million budget dropped to a $27.8 million operating budget.

The budget, which Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Willis Thomson called a work in progress, was presented at a public hearing attended by about 10 people, several of them city employees. Neither alderman said when the board would meet to balance the budget. Under state law, the city must approve the budget by Sept. 15.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. declined to discuss the budget after the meeting, saying he’d talk about it Friday.

“These (the numbers) are proposed things the department heads would like to see in 2016. We have to go in and vet those things and prioritize them,” said Thompson, who is mayor pro tem, after the meeting.

“We’re going to have to make some cuts and get us down to where we have a balanced budget. This is a raw version. The mayor has a committee advising him on the budget. I’m looking at the budget every day and so is Mr. Mayfield, and we’ll come together before the deadline and agree on those things that can stay and those things that can come out of the budget,” said Thompson.

Mayfield said he has met with Accounting Director Doug Whittington to examine potential action to trim the budget.

“I feel good that we will get there, that we will be balanced. We’re confident when we put our signatures on it, it will be right,” he said.

Thompson said some of the items under consideration for cuts are capital items such as equipment and vehicles. “We’ll just have to go in and prioritize it,” he said.

According to a breakdown of the proposed budget’s revenue stream, property tax revenue totals $8.5 million with sales taxes expected to bring $7.7 million. The $14 million listed as revenue from other sources include the city’s $9.2 million capital improvement bond issue and other loans such as lease purchases for cars and equipment, funds to buy two new pumpers for the fire department and money from a $1.4 million surplus from fiscal 2014.

Flaggs has planned to put $500,000 of that surplus into the city’s reserve fund. Thompson said some of the 2014 surplus money may have to be used as a last resort to balance the budget.

Looking at the budget, the departments getting the most funding include:

  • Police: $6.94 million.
  • Fire department: $6.54 million.
  • Ambulance: $2.7 million.
  • Administration: $6.04 million.
  • Street department: $7.03 million.
  • Right of way: $1.2 million.
  • Recreation: $3.23 million.
  • Convention Center: $2.18 million.

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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