Vicksburg board sets Thursday hearing on city budget

Published 1:57 pm Monday, August 29, 2022

Vicksburg residents have the opportunity to get a look at the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget at a 5:30 p.m. public hearing Thursday at the Robert M. Walker building.

City officials are looking at a proposed $33.12 million budget for FY 2023 that does not include employee pay raises but has money to hire a civil engineer and an urban planner. Both positions, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has said, are necessary for the city’s future.

Under state law, the board is required to have a new budget in place by Sept. 15. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

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At an Aug. 5 budget meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the mayor called the proposed budget “a fiscally responsible budget because of the big ticket items coming down the pipe and the loss of revenue from Baxter Wilson.”

Entergy closed its Baxter Wilson power plant on Kemp Bottom Road in May, resulting in an annual loss of $760,990 in property tax revenue.

“I’m confident we’ll be able to balance the budget and I’m confident we’ll continue to move forward providing the best quality service with the least cost to the taxpayer,” Flaggs said. “In six months, I will be open to looking at a raise, but not now as a matter of protection.”

Flaggs at an Aug. 25 board meeting said he will approve employee pay raises ranging from 2 to 5 percent based on an employee’s annual pay under one condition.

“Hopefully if the revenues come in and we can pay the big tickets (items) because we have some big tickets we’ve got to pay. As a security, I don’t like to give raises before we pay the bills,” he said. “I want to give the raises after we pay the bills and after we do some other things.”

The decision to wait on the raises, he said, was to protect the budget until the board gets a better idea of the cost of “big ticket items” like improvements at the city’s water treatment plant at Haining Road, a new elevated tank in the southern part of the city and improvements at the wastewater treatment plant on Rifle Range Road.

“And include eminent domain (to acquire property for the new port); that was a big ticket item, and the matching funds for the ARPA (American Recovery Plan Act) money,” he said, adding some ARPA funds for tourism and public safety are included in the budget. “What I have created (with the budget) is a safeguard for the city going forward.”

Flaggs said $1 million of the city’s reserve fund was used to acquire property for the Port of Vicksburg expansion.

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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