City officials: Budgets can be cut but not personnel
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2000
City officials believe sufficient cuts in the city’s budget
can be made without affecting personnel.
Natchez aldermen and Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith met
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Tuesday with City Clerk Donnie Holloway to discuss proposals recently
submitted by city department heads. The reports detail what a
3 percent cut in department budgets would mean in terms of services.
The possibility of an across-the-board budget cut was first
announced in late September when Smith put a freeze on hiring
of city employees.
At that time, Smith and several aldermen said cuts in personnel
may be necessary to balance the city’s budget as a result of a
compromised tax increase.
Smith said Wednesday the moratorium on hiring is still in effect,
but no personnel will be cut as a result of the budget downsizing.
&uot;(Cutting personnel) was absolutely a last resort, and
it looks like we can work it without it,&uot; Smith said.
&uot;It just feels like I’ve got (the department heads’) attention
and with their cooperation and willingness, we can do it,&uot;
Ward 3 Alderwoman Sue Stedman said other expenses, including
supplies, travel, contracted services and building repair and
maintenance, can be trimmed to make up for the budget shortfall.
&uot;We are cautiously optimistic that we can get through
this (fiscal) year without cutting personnel,&uot; Stedman said.
&uot;We’re looking at all angles and we see a very positive
future for this city,&uot; said Ward 4 Aldermen and Mayor Pro
Temp Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West. &uot;We just didn’t see
the need (to cut personnel).&uot;
Protecting personnel will mean some departments will not make
the 3 percent cut, but Holloway said he estimates the city will
end the fiscal year with a balance of about $250,000.
Holloway emphasized that fire protection and law enforcement
would not be adversely affected by the cuts.
A recent surge in sales tax revenues also has aldermen optimistic
about the city’s financial outlook.
August receipts returned to the city last month show more than
a 14 percent increase in sales tax revenues over the previous
year, Holloway said, totaling about $50,000 toward October revenues.
Although projections for October are promising, Smith said
he is reluctant to put much faith in the sales tax revenues.
&uot;I hope that’s a trend that continues,&uot; he said.
&uot;But sales tax figures are not really a great gauge to look
at month to month.&uot;
Smith said the cuts will be revisited in the spring as part
of the city’s six-month budget review.
Until then, Stedman said aldermen are &uot;keeping a very
close eye on things.&uot;