Board passes $35M operating budget

Published 7:35 pm Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday approved a $35.66 million operating budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

The budget is about $199,000 more than the $35.46 million budget presented at a Sept. 6 public hearing. At that time, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. indicated the board may have to cut about $473,000 from the new budget. Friday, he said a review of the budget revealed some extra revenue that was previously overlooked, eliminating the need to cut.

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He said the city was also able to use some surplus from previous years in the new budget.

“For the first time we were able to use a $1,814,165 surplus from the previous administration,” he said. “This year, we’ve been able to balance the budget, keep the $3 million (reserve) in the bank, and we added $227,000.

“We have given three raises and raised the minimum wage twice. We have not laid off and not furloughed anybody or convinced anyone to retire,” Flaggs said. “I’m still convinced there is $1.5 million that we can still cut out of this budget if we do some things.”

The board kept the city’s property tax millage at 35.88 mills.

It also includes $550,000 for the Vicksburg Convention Center, which is a new budget item. 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 goes for public safety, with $6.85 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 about $9.6 million. Public works’ total budget is $5.08 million, while recreation is $2.47 million.

The budget projects $9.49 million in property taxes, which makes up 27 percent of the city’s revenue, and $8.05 million in sales taxes, which comprises 22.7 percent of the city’s revenue.

Gaming tax revenue is projected at $4.89 million, which is less than the $5.38 million in 2018.

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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