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Updates on budget vital for city, county

Halfway through a journey is a good time to stop and check the map.

Finding out the present course is slightly off now is much preferred over finding out after the journey is nearly complete and a required course correction immense.

That led our staff to ask Adams County and City of Natchez leaders for a quick, mid-year update on the two entities’ finances.

March 31 marked the exact halfway point in the fiscal years of both city and county governments.

The differences between how the city and county responded to requests for information speaks volumes about the fiscal management and mismanagement in local government.

Adams County produced a printed report showing their up-to-date financial status. The request took virtually no time. Clearly the county’s financial health is in good hands with County Administrator Joe Murray.

The City of Natchez, however, is far worse off when it comes to knowledge of its own finances.

Aldermen have been complaining about this for months.

The city was unable to provide any tangible update on where it is relative to its budget or to the level of spending during the same period last year. The disorganization in the city clerk’s office appears to be at an all-time high.

Two newly hired accountants are working to sort out the mess, but they are just finishing up the work to organize the fiscal year 2011-2012 information. That fiscal year ended more than six months ago.

City residents deserve better. City leaders must fix the system even if that means reworking how the city’s clerk’s office operates from the ground up.

Of course, city leaders might consider how much the county would charge to manage the city’s finances on a contractual basis. It might be money well spent.