City of Vicksburg sets Thursday hearing on $30 million budget

Published 5:00 pm Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Vicksburg residents have the opportunity Thursday to see how their tax money is being spent at a 5:30 p.m. public hearing on the city’s 2024 fiscal budget in the boardroom of the Robert M. Walker Building, 1415 Walnut St.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he estimates the 2024 budget at approximately $30 million, adding some cuts are still needed. He said this year’s budget period will have an extra item, a supplemental budget that could allow the city to handle some major projects if money is available.

The mayor warned of the cuts in his comments at the start of Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, saying some departments could see their requests for new equipment cut by as much as 85 percent.

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After the meeting, Flaggs said city departments’ budget requests for capital equipment exceed $2 million. While he said it is not unusual for capital expenses to run over budget, what is unusual is the cost of the items.

He said the cost of capital items such as police cars, heavy equipment and other items has increased over the year, requiring city officials to take a long look at an item before deciding whether to approve the expense. He said the fire and police departments may take heavier cuts than some of the other departments.

“I’m confident that the budget would be balanced with some cuts,” he said, adding that balancing the budget will allow the board to do something it has not done before — establish a supplemental budget for major projects if the city has money available.

“That’s the reason why we (established a supplemental budget) in the Legislature,” Flaggs added. “So what we’ll do is work off the regular budget for the purpose of state law and then when the money is available, we can turn around and look, and then that way we won’t have a deficit. You can’t have a deficit in state government. I intend to try to get some money for the (city’s) supplementary budget.

“These items on the supplementary budget are very, very important and needed,” he added. “As we go through the year, we’re going to put priorities on the projects that come up.”

Flaggs said capital improvements won’t be the only budget items taking a cut, pointing out that the money the city spends on promotion, advertising and support of non-profit organizations will also come under the knife.

“There’s going to be a decrease, I know for a fact, in advertising, funding, sponsorship for those things,” Flaggs said, telling organizations, “Whatever you got last year in advertising, whatever you got last year in sponsorship, you may not get it this year because we cannot make funding advertising and sponsorship a priority or over the supplementary budget.

Flaggs called 2024 a tough budget year, saying he and Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Alex Monsour have reviewed the budget, “and I’ve worked on it and been over it, and I think it’ll work.”

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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