Department heads: Budget cuts difficult

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2000

City of Natchez department heads said a request for possible budget reductions could be difficult, if not impossible, to put into action.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said he has asked city department heads to submit two budgets for fiscal year 2001: a proposed budget and a separate budget with a 10 percent reduction.

&uot;I just asked them to look at it,&uot; Smith said. &uot;It’s for my benefit, really.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

Smith and City Clerk Donnie Holloway will begin reviewing the budget proposals next week. If adjustments need to be made, the reduced budgets will serve as a reference point, Smith said.

City Planner David Preziosi said any reduction in his department’s budget would force him to cut line items, such as equipment, training, supplies and personnel.

&uot;I can’t operate on a 10 percent reduction,&uot; Preziosi said. &uot;I would have to cut into personnel.&uot;

Because the planning department works closely with other city committees, such as the Natchez Preservation Commission, Preziosi said he has certain budget requirements he has to meet in order to operate on a standard level.

Smith and Holloway had asked for department budgets to be submitted by July 17.

Preziosi said he turned in a proposed budget with a memo explaining a 10 percent reduction was not possible without cutting personnel.

Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff also said his department was operating on a tight budget, and a reduction would force termination of employees.

&uot;I’ve turned in a budget of what I feel can provide adequate services without cutting personnel,&uot; Huff said, adding that he has not requested a budget increase in three years.

Huff said the current budget provides only for those services necessary for the protection and service of the city.

Sabrena Bartley, Natchez Senior Citizen Multi Purpose Center executive director, is one a few department heads who have not yet met with Smith as of Monday afternoon.

Bartley said she is aware of the cutback requests, but has not been instructed to do so by Smith, although she did turn in a budget proposal last week.

&uot;I don’t know exactly what the actual impact on these programs would be,&uot; Bartley said, of the possible reductions.

The senior center operates totally from grants and matching funds from local government. If the city was not able to provide their part of the matching funds, Bartley said the center could stand to lose federal and state funding.

Yvonne Robbins, Veterans Services director, said she was not aware of the reduction request.

Like the senior center, the veterans services department relies on both city and county funding.

&uot;We’d have to tighten our belts a little,&uot; Robbins said, but &uot;you can do anything if you have to.&uot;