Board backs hiring freeze, employee raises

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2017

For the second time in three years, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen is instituting a hiring freeze for all city departments except the police and fire departments beginning Oct. 1.

The boards will also give city employees a 3 percent across the board pay raise.

“I’ve got to have the hiring freeze to afford the pay raise,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, adding the freeze will be in effect for 3 1/2 years — the bulk of this board’s term of office. “We’re going to hold it tight.”

The board’s announcement came as it begins budget discussions to develop the city’s fiscal 2018 budget. The board has also ordered department heads to keep their budgets close to the present fiscal year.

“We’re asking everybody to stay at 97 percent of last year’s (fiscal 2017) budget on supplies and services, so we can give the across the board increase to employees,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs, however, said the board is approving one new position of assistant city attorney to help upgrade the city employee manual and all other operations manuals used by the city.

“They are all backdated and we’re going to bring them up and also help (city attorney) Nancy (Thomas) to handle some of the legal stuff,” he said.

He said the position of city economic development director, which he proposed during the campaign, will also not be filled until the board sees what the chamber of commerce is going to do. The chamber, working with the Warren County Port Commission, hired Pablo Diaz as chamber executive director and economic development director. Flaggs said he did not want to duplicate efforts.

During budget discussions, Fire Chief Craig Danczyk said the fire department’s ambulance service proposed buying one new ambulance for $170,000, reconditioning a second for $85,000.

Danczyk said the new ambulance is needed because some of the ambulances have in excess of 70,000 to 80,000 miles.

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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