Mayor says city better off than three years ago

Published 9:59 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he came to the Lions Club with good news Wednesday.

“I feel good about being able to accomplish what we’ve accomplished,” he said. “Vicksburg’s a better city today than it was three years ago.”

Currently the Board of Mayor and Aldermen are working on next year’s budget and have met the past couple days to discuss a number of finances including giving city employees a pay raise in an attempt to retain them.

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Flaggs said he is going back to the drawing board on the purposed 2 percent raise for department supervisors and superintendents and 3 percent raise for city division and department heads because of one employee’s voiced disapproval of the difference.

“They’ve got a point,” he said.

There are a couple different options Flaggs is considering, like a raise based off annual income or possibly giving everyone a 3 percent raise depending on how the numbers come out after figures have been tallied.

The raises will cost the city $375,000 and will be funded with $400,000 the board put back at the beginning of the year.

“I’m confident that the growth in the revenues will be able to sustain that,” Flaggs said.

Under the raise proposal, the fire department will implement a tiered pay system setting pay scales based on rank, experience and training. He said the fire department has shown him they are committed to reducing overtime pay.

“As of the last pay check, it was about $140,000 less this year than last year. So that’s good news,” Flaggs said.

He went on to say with a new fire department being built, he believes the city will be able to close one or two stations and still sustain their fire rating and actually have more manpower.

Flaggs said the 2015 budget audit would be released Thursday.

“It looks real good,” he said. “We will actually have a surplus. Keep in mind when I took office three years ago we were $494,000 in debt.”

Flaggs then discussed all the new things coming to Vicksburg including a new park near the Outlets at Vicksburg that will be formally announced in the next three weeks, one or two new restaurants downtown, new lighting in the downtown parking garages with cameras and mirrors to come, an infrastructure plan, a housing proposal and the sports complex.

“I’m absolutely convinced that if the people allow us to assess the hotel and the food tax, we will have a sports complex in Vicksburg,” he said.

Flaggs said the only thing he hasn’t been able to accomplish yet is changing the charter on formal government that would make the mayor and both aldermen accountable for specific departments, but he thinks it will happen eventually.

“I don’t give up,” he said. “I’m one of the most persistent people.”