Reduction in expenses bolsters budget

Published 6:15 pm Wednesday, October 3, 2018


A recap of revenues and expenses in the city of Vicksburg’s fiscal 2018 budget indicated the city had a total reduction of $486,000 in expenses in its general fund at the close of the year, which ended Sept. 30.

Director of Administration and accounting director Doug Whittington said the full impact of the reduction will not be fully known until the audit report on the 2018 budget when it is released in March.

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“We still have some financial matters outstanding,” he said. “We still have two months of sales tax collections (from 2018) to receive and one month of gaming revenue left to collect, and there are some taxes revenues we get from the county that we have to receive.”

Sales tax reimbursements from the state run two months behind. Revenue from August’s sales taxes will be received by the city in October, and September’s receipts will be received in November.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the reduction is the result of the city’s budget policies.

“That is what happens when you budget 97 percent of your previous year’s expenditures,” he said. “It’s a safety net. It creates an opportunity for saving on the front end. It happens when you budget from a fiscally conservative position.

“I want to give the employees credit. As long as they meet their budget, there will always be a surplus,” he said.

The city has followed the 97 percent budget policy since Flaggs took office. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen have also put on a hiring freeze for city departments except for police, fire and ambulance, and raised employee pay three times.

According to a recap of the city’s budget, the largest cost reduction was $440,000 in the police department for personnel. The police department, which is understaffed, was budgeted in 2018 for its full compliment of 81 officers. The department is not at full staff and the unused money was returned to the general fund.

The fire department and the city’s ambulance service, which is part of the fire department, saw budget increases in personnel.

The fire department’s money for employees was increased by $100,000, and ambulance service by $107,000.

The fire department, according to Fire Chief Craig Danczyk, is 99 percent staffed.

Personnel costs for administration, which includes the mayor’s office, accounting, the North and South Ward aldermen, human resources, legal department and other offices, were up $80,000, while city court personnel costs were reduced by $99,000.

Other reductions included $100,000 in street department services, and $90,000 in public works administration services.

Flaggs said more reductions are expected for the fiscal 2019 budget approved by the board in September. One area is health insurance costs, where the board is looking to reduce the cost of its self-insured program. It began working to cut costs in 2017.

“We’re getting ready to hire another broker,” he said. “Now that we know what we’re looking for, we’ll be able to generate savings. Last year was just a model.”

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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