Commission needs $122K for bills, payroll

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Warren County Parks and Recreation Commission is in the red by about $100,000 and needs help from the county to make it through January, commissioner said Monday.

Several commissioners met with the Board of Supervisors at a Monday morning work session, asking for an additional $123,223.77 to help pay the recreation department bills and meet payroll.

“If we can’t get the extra funds, our checks are going to start bouncing,” commission president L.T. Walker told the supervisors. “We need the money. That’s it.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The supervisors said they would help the commission, but stopped short of saying they would give the entire $123,000.

“Some of the things (expenses) we are incurring that we cannot budget on is our expenses,” Walker said. “Right now we have less coming in, more going out. We go through this every year. We are subjected to the same budget, but expenses are going up, over and over again each year.”

The Commission oversees the maintenance and operation of Clear Creek golf course, soccer fields in Bovina and a baseball field in Culkin.

Commission vice president Dale McDuff said revenue from fees for Clear Creek, soccer and baseball totaled $425,442.53 during fiscal 2015. The commission also receives a $361,000 supplement from the county, giving a total income of $786,442.53, with $479,674.52 of that going to employee salaries and benefits, another $114,876 going for equipment, and $39,232.63 for miscellaneous expenses, such as utilities and garbage collection.

McDuff, however, did not have more information on the total amount of the commission’s other expenses, like fertilizer and other maintenance items, adding, “I did not have time to finish my spreadsheet.”

An analysis of the commission’s present financial situation presented to the board showed it has $25,636.46 in the bank, with payroll expenses of about $30,392.66 for November and $27,382.16 for December, and total bills and loan payments of $32,858.97 and $22,310.26 for the same months.

County administrator John Smith said after the meeting he would meet with commission clerk Mary Puckett to review the commission’s expenses and get a better picture of the commission’s situation. He added the recreation commission had a deficit at the close of 2015, and also showed deficits in 2013 and 2014.

Puckett said she had been holding bill payments to ensure sufficient money to handle payroll.

“When an agency shows a deficit over three years, there’s a cash flow problem,” Smith said. “The cash flow problem looks like it’s being caused by a net loss with level funding for three, four years, now. It looks like they’re going to have to have a subsidy.”

“If we just give them advance for two months, that’s going to come out of your January money (supplement). Are you still going to be in the hole,” Supervisor John Arnold asked.

Williams said the commission would still be in the red, “because we haven’t increased our budget for the last three years.”

“It seems to me we have two problems — one short term, one is immediate what do we do to help them make payroll, and the other one is what are we going to do to help them get back on track,” Board President Bill Lauderdale said.

Smith said the board in September gave the commission a $75,000 supplement in advance for fiscal 2016, which the commissioners used to take care of past bills and handle the October payroll.

“So we’re going to map out a long-range plan,” he said.

“We’re not going to be able to get you 100 grand. I’ll have to look at, but we’ll get you something,” he told the commissioners.

“All we want is for you to help us pay our bills,” McDuff said.

“You all own this (the golf course and other fields); we’re just the caretakers,” Walker said. “It’s up to you if you want to fund this.”

“We’re going to do what we need to do in order to keep everybody afloat,” Supervisor Charles Selmon said. “That will help you short-term. What we need to do is come with a long-term plan. My problem is this. If there’s a negative cash flow, at the end of the year, I’m not sure giving additional money is going to solve it. A budget it a budget, and to pour more money into a budget doesn’t necessarily solve the problem.

“So whatever the problem is, we need to at least put some Band-Aids on it if we’re not solving it.”

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.

email author More by John