City presents 2019 budget to public; expects more cuts

Published 5:44 pm Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen presented a $35.46 million fiscal 2019 operating budget to the public Thursday, but Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said that number will be cut by almost $500,000 by the time it is approved Sept. 14.

The board has until Sept. 15 to approve the budget, under state law.

“We’re still going to have to trim $473,000,” he said. “The good news is, we know where it is.”

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The budget includes the employee pay raise approved by the board in July, and keeps the city millage 35.88 mills.

It also includes $550,000 for the Vicksburg Convention Center. The board in 2017 removed the 2 percent hotel tax that provided revenue for the convention center and agreed to absorb the center’s operation costs after the special 2 percent tax for the sports complex passed.

The largest share of the budget, $17.58 million, goes for public safety, with $6.87 million going for the fire department, $3.19 million for ambulance service and $6.05 million for police. The city’s traffic department, which handles traffic signals, signs and other safety measures, gets $573,845.

The budget for administration, which includes the mayor’s office, city court, human resources and VTV totals $9.6 million. Public works’ total budget is $5.08 million, while recreation is $2.47 million.

According to the budget presentation by city director of administration Doug Whittington, the budget projects $9.49 million in property taxes, which makes up 27 percent of the city’s revenue, and $7.95 million in sales taxes, which comprises 22.7 percent of the city’s revenue.

The property tax revenue is less than the $9.56 million received in fiscal 2018; the sales tax revenue is projected to be the same as 2018.

Gaming tax revenue is projected at $4.89 million, which less than the $5.38 million in 2018. Other revenue sources include permits, fees, court fines and interest, $4.43 million, and $2.49 million from state and county funds and $5.73 million in bonds and federal grants.

Whittington said gaming tax revenue has been declining over the past seven years. Flaggs said the city “projects a decline in gaming revenues so we won’t have to have to cut the budget because the (gaming) revenue didn’t come in like projected.”

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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