City officials present $32M 2018 budget

Published 6:00 am Friday, September 8, 2017

City employees and department heads packed the boardroom of the City Hall Annex Thursday as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen presented the city of Vicksburg’s $32.65 million fiscal 2018 general fund budget.

There were few residents at the public hearing, and no objections or concerns were presented during the presentation.

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. credited the city’s budget oversight committee with developing the budget.

“I wish we (the board) could take credit for this budget, but it was the committee that was organized with some of the division heads who gathered and cut this budget down so that we can end up with a surplus of $32,161.13,” he said.

One of the items cut from the budget was a 3 percent across the board employee pay raise, which was removed after the board learned of an $800,000 shortfall in the city employee health insurance.

“We could have probably funded the pay raise, but it just didn’t make sense to fund the pay raise and then turn around and raise your cost of insurance to offset (the increase in the health plan).”

He said the board is looking at changes that could result in a possible $600,000 reduction in the health care plan.

“The next six months are going to be critical, because if we can maintain this budget for the next six months, it’s my understanding there’s a supplemental budget they (Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Alex Monsour) want to look at after six months to bring in some additional things they’ll be looking at.”

According to a Powerpoint presentation by city finance and administration director Doug Whittington, the budget projects revenues of $9.16 million in property tax and $7.95 million in sales tax. The property tax comprises 29.3 percent of the city’s total revenue, with sales taxes making up 24.3 percent. Other projections include $5.38 million in gaming tax; $3.84 million in fees, permits, fines and interest from investments; state and county funds; and other sources like grants and loans.

The city’s total assessed value, including real estate, personal property, automobiles and utilities, totals $328.7 million.

Public safety — police, fire, ambulance, emergency management and traffic — are the largest budget item with total of $16.39 million. Public works is next with $4.83 million, with culture, parks and recreation costing $2.41 million.

“We owe a lot to our employees,” Mayfield said after the presentation. “They’ve helped us to stand tall. The board is ready to do right with the city. So many good things are on tap. We’re leveling the playing field as best we can between north and south.”

“I think it’s going to be an exciting time in the city of Vicksburg,” Monsour said. “It’s a great opportunity to do things, and things are happening and we’re doing them in a fiscally responsible way.”

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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