No raise, two new positions included in proposed budget for city of Vicksburg

Published 3:20 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

No raises, two new positions and capital items are part of what Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he believes will be included in a tight budget for Vicksburg’s 2023 fiscal year.

The board will discuss the 2023 budget during meetings next Thursday and Friday to review department heads’ requests.

“It looks like it’s going to be a fiscally conservative budget, but one that will meet our obligations to keep the quality of service high at the least cost to taxpayers,” Flaggs said Thursday, adding that he expects the budget to closely resemble the present $33.12 million fiscal 2022 budget, which included pay raises for city employees and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

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Flaggs briefly discussed the budget during remarks at Monday’s board meeting, opening his comments by announcing there will be “no pay raises across the board.”

“We cannot give pay raises; don’t look for pay raises across the board,” he said.

Flaggs said he and accounting director Doug Whittington will examine the city’s budget in April to determine if there is sufficient revenue at that time to support an across-the-board raise.

Flaggs said, however, that some employees may see an increase in their paychecks.

“There will be some merit pay raises for some employees,” he said. “There’s a misalignment of some pay in different departments and we want to make some adjustments.”

He also announced plans to hire an urban planner for the Community Development Department and a civil engineer.

He said after the meeting the two positions are the only new hires for the city, adding the hiring freeze the board implemented in 2017 will continue.

“These (positions) are absolutely necessary; we’ve got to have them to prepare for the future,” Flaggs said. He said the urban planner will work under Community Development Director Jeff Richardson.

“We’ve got to have someone in the Community Development Department that understands urban planning and can help us on urban planning under Jeff’s supervision,” Flaggs said. “We’ve got to have an urban planner; we cannot continue to do things haphazardly or at random. We’ve got to have a sequence; a methodology.”

The engineer, he said, is also a plan for the future.

“We need to hire someone to start obtaining that institutional knowledge; to bring on someone to be cross-trained early and assist (Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman).”

In other budget items, Flaggs said city department heads will continue to set their budgets at 97 percent of the previous fiscal year; a policy Flaggs instituted after taking office in 2013.

“That is an automatic 3 percent savings for your budget,” he said.

Also, discussions during the budget meetings will address only capital items such as new equipment and construction projects.

“That’s basically what we have now when you can’t have pay raises,” Flaggs said.

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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