Natchez mayor wants to cut costs

Published 12:04am Sunday, August 31, 2014

NATCHEZ — As the City of Natchez begins the process of budget planning for the next fiscal year in earnest this week, Mayor Butch Brown said he wants to cut costs.

Though the board of aldermen has not had a formal appropriations meeting for the 2014-2015 budget year, Brown said he has been examining the budget advance of the sessions with the board.

“I have been meeting with the department heads and trying to assess the status of their budgets at this time of the year, how close they are to being out of money or how much they have left over unspent,” Brown said.

“We are seeing how much we can cut the budget. I am not out with an axe, but I want to be sure that if one department feels pretty lean and another feels like there is fat in it, we are going to adopt a hopefully better budget where expenses are a little closer to the revenue stream.”

Brown said he hopes next year’s budget will fall short of this year’s budget of $37 million.

“I am not talking about millions and millions of dollars, but we still want to get within a better range of matching expenditures closer with revenues,” he said.

The city has experienced several instances where projected revenues have not matched what came in this year, Brown said.

In the past, departmental budgets have not been prepared with the input of department heads, Brown said, but were instead imposed.

“Right now, we are in a phase of recognizing the department heads as being the expert in that department and what they can live with and without,” he said. “We are looking at the actual needs of the departments, rather than adding wish list items.”

Brown said he will meet with the department heads again mid-week and the board of aldermen will likely meet Thursday or Friday to review their proposed budgets in order to get to a proposed total city budget. The aldermen will also make appropriations to various needs and organizations around the city.

“We will bring the board in, make presentations and get their input, and hopefully we will have something prepared that we can adopt in a timely manner,” Brown said.

Alderman Dan Dillard asked last week if — when the board is planning the budget — they can be presented with the same form as last year rather than many different budget sheets.

“The format we used to present the budget last year will work well,” he said. “It is essentially the budget in five pages. It gives you the funds, the expected revenues, the expected expenditures and the totals.”

Dillard has also requested the city clerk’s office present the board with a breakdown of how tax millage will be dispersed within the budget so it can be advertised to the public.